SB teen missing in Lake Michigan

Rahem Mason

MICHIGAN CITY – Indiana Conservation Officers are investigating the disappearance of a 17-year-old South Bend boy, last seen in Lake Michigan off Washington Park.

Just after 7 p.m. Saturday, Conservation Officers Central Dispatch Center received a report of a possible drowning in Lake Michigan in the area of Washington Park, a statement from DNR said.

Witnesses saw Rahem Mason "go under the surface and did not see him above surface again," Conservation Officer Tyler Brock of DNR Law Enforcement said.

Within minutes, Michigan City firefighters arrived on scene and began to manually search the water, he said.

But high waves and strong currents prevented a search by scuba divers.

A U.S. Coast Guard vessel also responded and searched the area by boat, while a Coast Guard helicopter conducted an air search, Brock said.

"Initial search efforts were unsuccessful and resumed Sunday morning," he said.

"The incident occurred after normal swimming hours and the water had been closed throughout the day due to dangerous waves and currents," he said.

The National Weather Service had issued a Beach Hazard Advisory because of winds that were causing high waves and possible rip currents.

That advisory remained in effect until Sunday evening, with wave of 3-5 feet, dangerous swimming conditions, and strong structural and rip currents expected.

There have been 13 drownings in Lake Michigan so far in 2019, according to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, including two in Indiana.

On Feb. 11, Scott Tharp, 59, of Gary died of accidental drowning. A fisherman found Tharp’s body four days later in a public fishing area at the Port of Indiana near Burns Harbor, a Coast Guard crew near the port recovered the body.

And on May 18, 23-year-old Jacob Sandy of Michigan was seen kayaking off Porter Beach. His body was discovered 11 days later by an Indiana Dunes National Park employee about a quarter-mile east of Porter Beach on the shore of Lake Michigan.

Last year there were 43 drownings in Lake Michigan, including two in Michigan City, according to the GLSRP.

The Michigan City Police Department, Michigan City Police Chaplains, Long Beach Police, La Porte County EMS, La Porte County Dispatch Center and The Red Cross also assisted at the scene.

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