Search to resume for missing boy at Dunes State Park
By Christin Nance Lazerus email@example.com July 8, 2012 8:10PM
Updated: July 8, 2012 11:16PM
PORTAGE — Emergency responders were searching into the evening for a 15-year-old boy who was last seen Sunday afternoon swimming in Lake Michigan.
Shortly before 6 p.m., friends of the boy reported him missing at the Portage Lakefront Park, which is part of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.
The park closed for the search, which involved helicopters, boats and divers. Chicago resident Karen Renteria said that law enforcement quickly ushered her family out of the park, and employees were informing cars of the park’s closure at a gate around 7 p.m.
Renteria said that the waves were cool to look at, but it was rough going for swimmers.
“As the day went on, it got worse,” she said. “We had a near drowning ourselves, where the kids got in trouble and I had to swim out to get them. After that, we stayed in the shallower parts.”
Renteria said as she left she saw a friend of the boy crying on the beach.
“It’s just really sad,” she said.
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Law Enforcement Specialist Ken Mehne said the teen was swimming about 200 yards out with several friends around 5:45 p.m. when he started getting struggling with the strong undertow. A female friend was able to swim back to shore and screamed for help. A person on the beach called 911.
Lake conditions were hazardous on Sunday, with rip current warnings, waves between five and seven feet tall, and strong winds.
Emergency personnel from Burns Harbor, Ogden Dunes, Portage, Porter, the United States Coast Guard, the National Park Service, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, and the Lake County Sheriff’s Department helicopter assisted in the search. Mehne said the recovery effort will resume at 7 a.m. Monday.
Earlier on Sunday Dunes State Park officials were also searching for two 16-year-old girls who were reported missing, but it turned out to be a flase alarm.