Grand Haven Tribune: Two men drowned at Grand Haven State Park; several other swimmers rescued

Two men drowned at Grand Haven State Park; several other swimmers rescued

Becky Vargo • Updated Aug 5, 2018 at 4:59 PM

UPDATE 8 p.m. — Police say a 20-year-old Lansing man drowned in Lake Michigan off Grand Haven State Park Sunday afternoon.

He was pulled out of the water shortly before 4 p.m. His name was not released pending notification of family.

Police have released the name of the 64-year-old Wyoming man who drowned earlier in the afternoon. His name is David Knaffle.

UPDATE 6:15 p.m. — Police are reporting that the 64-year-old Wyoming man rescued from Lake Michigan at Grand Haven State Park early this afternoon has died.

That incident occurred at about noon.

At 2:36 p.m. emergency crews returned to the beach on reports of multiple people in trouble in the big lake.

Three people were rescued and transported to local hospitals. A medical helicopter responded to North Ottawa Community Hospital a short time ago, but it is unknown if any of the rescued swimmers was transported.

Two additional swimmers were able to self-rescue, police said. 


UPDATE: Grand Haven Public Safety Director Jeff Hawke sent a media advisory at 4:45 p.m. Sunday to warn people to stay out of the Lake Michigan water at Grand Haven State Park and City Beach.

Hawke said there are “multiple victims” of dangerous swimming conditions who have been rescued Sunday afternoon and taken to medical facilities.

The beach and south pier have been closed off.

As of 5:25 p.m., a Coast Guard boat was still out in the water and a helicopter was overhead.

Three people — including a man pulled from the water earlier in the afternoon (see story below) — are in critical condition. It is unclear how many others were pulled from the water but are apparently OK.

At 2:10 p.m., the National Weather Service office in Grand Rapids issued a “beach hazards statement” to warn of dangerous swimming conditions on Lake Michigan beaches from Grand Haven north to Manistee until 8 p.m. Sunday. The weather bureau said winds out of the south were building waves to 3-5 feet, creating dangerous swimming conditions, especially on the south side of piers.

Original story:

A 65-year-old Wyoming man was in critical condition after being pulled from a rough Lake Michigan at Grand Haven State Park early Sunday afternoon.

Emergency crews responded just after noon, when Ottawa County Central Dispatch received multiple calls of a man in distress.

The man went under the water before police arrived, but officers from the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety organized beach-goers into a human chain and one of those chains found the man within a short time after the call, said Sgt. Lee Adams.

Police and paramedics were performing CPR on the man after he was pulled from the water.

Luke Nordlund of Grand Rapids was one of the visitors who joined the human chain.

“Probably 30-40 people formed the chain, but had to split into two sections because it was getting too deep,” he said.

It was the second chain of people who found the man and pulled him to shore, Nordlund added.

A red flag was flying and weather alerts had been posted the previous day.

An officer from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources said there was a longshore current at the park as well as “quite a few rip currents.”

“People shouldn’t be in the water,” the state conversation officer said, looking out to the lake where at least a couple dozen people were playing in the waves.

“I’m 6-foot-7 and over 250 pounds, and I almost got knocked over myself,” Nordlund said.

Four Grand Haven public safety officers were in the water. Two Coast Guard fast-response boats and an Ottawa County marine patrol boat also responded.

The National Weather Service reported waves of 2-4 feet were expected today. The water temperature off the state park was in the lower 70s at the time of the incident with a local air temperature of about 82.

This story will be updated when more information is available.

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