The search continued this morning for the bodies of the two men presumed drowned Tuesday afternoon in Lake Michigan near Saugatuck Dunes State Park. And Coast Guard officials are asking swimmers and boaters to heed the red flag and small craft warnings, as dangerous conditions are expected to continue through tonight.
Reed and his nephew, Stoner, were reported missing after they started struggling in a rip current about 50 yards offshore, according to a report from WZZM-TV.
Petty Officer George Degener, public relations officer for the Cleveland-based Ninth Coast Guard District, said a helicopter from Air Station Detroit was working search patterns this morning. Boats are not being used in the search today, Degener said, because “it’s difficult to see from a small boat” under certain wave conditions.
One of the 47-foot lifeboats from Station Grand Haven participated in the search Tuesday.
Coast Guardsman BM1 Andrew Zylinski said he took a crew of five from Station Grand Haven when they were called about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday on a report of people in the water needing assistance.
“It took us an hour to get there and we conducted a shoreline search,” Zylinski said. “We did six patterns until 11 p.m.”
Zylinski said waves were 6-8 feet on the beach and at least 6 feet the entire time they were underway.
“We were getting tossed around pretty good the whole night,” he said.
With similar weather conditions expected to continue, Operations Petty Officer Sean Long of Station Grand Haven said boaters need to know the forecast and their capabilities.
“What’s key is having communications, the proper safety gear and a float plan,” he said.
A marine radio is recommended, as is a GPS locator system, Long said. Use a float plan to let people know where you plan to be and when you plan to arrive home, he added.
Swimmers also need to use caution, the Coast Guard says.
“It’s imperative that those who recreate on the Great Lakes exhibit personal responsibility for their safety and the safety of others,” said Lt. Cmdr. Sean Brady, commanding officer of Sector Field Office Grand Haven. “Rip tides and rip currents can develop with little notice, and there are no visual indicators of these from the beach. Be sure to look for warning flags and signs indicating when you should stay out of the water.”
Last week, the Coast Guard and numerous local authorities saved 28 people from dangerous rip currents near the Holland pier. Chief Petty Officer Mark Rose, the officer-in-charge of Coast Guard Station Holland, was one of the first people on the scene and saved 14 people from the turbulent waters, officials said.
With the weather conditions expected to be hazardous this week, beachgoers and boaters are asked to heed the warnings posted by the National Weather Service: “Winds and waves will remain hazardous to small craft today and this evening. The rip current risk will remain high as well, which will pose a significant threat to anyone swimming at the beaches.”
Officials recommends to swimmers caught in a current not to fight it by trying to swim back to shore. Instead, swim parallel to the shore until you feel the current relax, then swim to shore. Most rip currents are narrow and a short swim parallel to shore will bring a swimmer to safety.
For more water safety tips, visit the U.S. Lifesaving Association website: www.usla.org.