1 rescued, search for possible drowning victim suspended in South Haven

Southwest Michigan

SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — Emergency crews have suspended their search for the night for a possible drowning victim in Lake Michigan near the South Haven shoreline.

The situation started around 3 p.m. on Sunday at South Haven’s south beach when two men, ages 19 and 18, were reportedly in distress at a buoy in 3- to 5-foot waves, according to South Haven Area Emergency Management.

A South Haven police officer and first responder were able to spot the 19-year-old at a buoy about 100 feet out and brought him to shore, authorities said. He said his 18-year-old friend had tried to swim back to shore but never resurfaced after going under.

Early Sunday evening, first responders created a human chain in the water to look for the man. The Coast Guard and Van Buren County Sheriff’s Office also participated in the search before it was temporarily called off due to poor conditions. That search is expected to resume as soon as conditions on the lake improve.

Red warning flags were flying at South Haven’s south beach on Sunday. Additionally, the city placed sandbag barriers along the shore to discourage swimmers from going into the water while dangerous conditions persisted. The city made the decision to close the beach after they say people were ignoring the warnings.

“A lot of people love our beautiful lake but especially you can never underestimate the waves, the rip currents. Heed the warnings,” said South Haven Police Chief Natalie Thompson.

South Haven’s south beach on Lake Michigan on Sunday, Sept. 6, 2020.

The rescue and search effort comes just one day after three people were rescued from Lake Michigan in the same area. In one instance, a female was found floating unconscious in the water around 2:30 p.m. South Haven Area Emergency Services said she was brought to shore by good Samaritans and taken to the hospital.

Around the same time, a man was caught in rip currents near the south pier. A nearby boater helped him and took him to the city’s southside marina but did not need medical attention.

Several hours later, a Van Buren County sheriff marine patrol saw a male floundering in the water about one mile off the north beach around 4:30 p.m. He had apparently been thrown from a dingy in waves that were three-to-five feet, crews say.

This is a developing story. Check back with woodtv.com for updates on Monday.

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