Dangerous Lake MI conditions pause search for teen

Ottawa County

PARK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — ATVs patrolled the beach and a helicopter hovered over the water at Holland State Park Thursday before crews finally called off their search for the body of a teen who was swept into Lake Michigan the previous night.

The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office identified her as 16-year-old Eliza Trainer from Flushing, near Flint.

eliza trainer
An undated courtesy photo of Eliza Trainer.

The sheriff’s office said due to high winds and dangerous lake conditions, searchers were unable to deploy boats or dive teams in the recovery effort.

“The weather is actually severe enough as well that I can’t use any of my tools to get out there. We have sights and a sonar robot we can use to search, but we can’t put anything in the water. The waters are just too rough at this point for us,” Sgt. Jay Douglas said Thursday morning.

With the lake refusing to calm, the search was called off for the day around 4 p.m. They expected to resume the effort Friday — with divers, if conditions allow.

Trainer and a 18-year-old man, identified later by family as her friend Kade Goodrich, went to Holland State Park Wednesday night.

“They just came to see Lake Michigan. They had not seen Lake Michigan before and they came to see Lake Michigan,” Douglas said of the pair.

Around 11:30 p.m., the two were knocked off the north pier by a large wave. Goodrich was able to get himself out of the water, but Trainer was not. Goodrich found someone in a parked car and got them to call 911.

Goodrich was taken to hospital for treatment and released Thursday morning.

“I think he’s OK,” his sister, Lilly Goodrich, said later in the day. “He was sleeping when we left. He has cuts all over his body and he has water in his lungs.”

Lilly Goodrich, who along with her family drove more than two hours from Flushing to get to Holland State Park Thursday afternoon, clutched a bouquet of flowers as she looked out at the water.

She said she was also Trainer’s best friend.

“She was a part of the family,” Lilly Goodrich said. “She always just wanted to have fun or do something. She didn’t like being at home, sitting around. She liked going out.”

She tossed a single rose into the lake.

“Lake Michigan isn’t a joke, it’s dangerous,” Sgt. Douglas said. “These conditions are not conducive to being out on the pier. As you can see, the waves are breaking over the pier. Add that to being out there at night, it’s a very dangerous situation.”

Goodrich’s aunt’s fiance wondered why the pier was open at all.

“The water’s high and it’s icy. It’s dangerous,” Scott Pethers said. “Unfortunately, the only time it gets done is when something like this happens. It should have been done a long time before this.”

The Coast Guard searched the area by boat with thermal imagining and night vision Wednesday night, but, like Thursday, it was too dangerous to get divers in the water.

—News 8’s Ken Kolker contributed to this report.

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