By Mary Owen
1:32 PM PDT, August 11, 2011
The body of a 20-year-old New Lenox man who presumably drowned in Lake Michigan in Indiana was recovered shortly before 1 p.m. today, officials said.
Brett Vanetten went missing about 2:15 p.m. Wednesday while swimming at the Wells Street Beach in Gary near the border of Lake and Porter counties. Vanetten’s father identified his body, said Gene Davis, a spokesman for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
Vanetten was swimming with five friends in heavy waves that were 4 to 6 feet when he jumped into a wave and never re-surfaced, Davis said. The group was swimming about 100 feet from the shore.
“We don’t know if he injured himself or if he had the wind knocked out of him,” Davis said. “It’s hard to say what happened.”
An IDNR boat with sonar equipment located the body about 200 feet off the shore in the Miller Beach community in Gary, about a quarter mile from where he was last seen, Davis said. U.S. Coast Guard helicopters and boats searched the area until sunset Wednesday and a shoreline search started at 4:30 a.m.
Waves were too choppy Wednesday to use sonar equipment, but today waves were less than a foot high, Davis said.
An autopsy will be conducted Saturday.
A chaplain was on the scene to comfort the family who were at the beach during the search.
No lifeguards are on duty at Wells Street Beach, but conditions had been so dangerous in recent days that visitors had been warned about swimming, said Alice Pickford, who operates the Wells Street Beach concession stand and parking lot.
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