Local News

Possible Drowning Victim Search Ongoing

(New Buffalo, MI) - Continued rough conditions on Lake Michigan were hampering the search for a man suspected to have drowned at the municipal beach in New Buffalo.  The 24-year old man from Villa Ridge, Missouri was last seen July 30 about 7:30 p.m., according to New Buffalo Police. He apparently slipped below the surface as six-foot waves produced by strong northerly winds easily crashed over the break wall shortened considerably by the record-high lake. 

There were also strong undercurrents, police said.


New Buffalo City Manager Dave Richards said red flags advising people to stay out of the water were already posted when the man disappeared. Police Chief Rich Killips said the ongoing search has been limited primarily from boats and through the air because the lake for several consecutive days remained too choppy for divers with the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office to safely venture into the water.


Sand from the bottom of the lake stirred up from the turbulence also made the water too murky to send divers in. “It’s been stirred up so much it would make it really difficult to see anything,” Killips said.


Sonar to try and locate a body underwater along with drones scouring the surface of the lake has been used since the initial search that included a helicopter from the U.S. Coast Guard station in Michigan City.  The name of the man believed to have drowned was not immediately released.


Killips said he was a contractor doing work in the area then after his shift wen to the beach to see Lake Michigan with two other workers.  Killips said the investigation showed the men were sort of wading in the water fully clothed when the apparent victim had his hat blow off in the gusty winds.


He went out further into the water to try and retrieve his hat when caught by an undertow, he said. “As soon as the lake cooperates we’ll have some divers in and look to see if they can find anything,” Killips said.

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