3 Drown, 4 Missing in Michigan

From Associated Press

Three people drowned and four others were missing and presumed drowned in choppy water along popular Lake Michigan beaches, officials said Saturday.

The accidents happened along a three-mile stretch of beaches just north of the Indiana line Friday, after storms kicked up waves and created a strong undertow in the area, Berrien County Sheriff’s Lt. Ed Sherrick said.

The search for the missing swimmers resumed Saturday.

“Due to the circumstances, it’s not considered lifesaving. It’s considered body recovery,” said Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Kenneth Christian.


None of the beaches has lifeguards, the South Bend (Ind.) Tribune reported. Instead, flags are used to signal degrees of danger, and on Friday, red flags were posted warning people to stay out of the lake because of the hazardous conditions.

Bruce C. Chapman, 57, and his wife, Judith, 66, drowned off a beach bordering Warren Dunes State Park, about 15 miles south of St. Joseph, and Mark Weiss, 59, of Chicago drowned off a neighboring beach.

Three swimmers from Illinois were reported missing off Warren Dunes, and a swimmer from Oregon was missing from nearby Bethany Beach, Sherrick said. Their names were not immediately released.

A 12-year-old Chicago boy swimming off Warren Dunes had to be rescued and was treated at a hospital.

The three swimmers missing at Warren Dunes had been trying to help the 12-year-old, the South Bend Tribune and the Herald Palladium of St. Joseph reported.

Twins Ernesto and Hector Rodriguez, 19, of Chicago had joined the rescue effort. “All six of us could have been drowned,” Ernesto Rodriguez told the Herald Palladium.

Warren Dunes State Park, with about two miles of shoreline and sand dunes rising 240 feet over Lake Michigan, is visited by more than 1 million people annually.