The intensive search for a Bronx, N.Y., man whose inflatable boat capsized
off Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore remained partially suspended this
morning, after the U.S. Coast Guard calculated that yesterday’s strong
south/southwest winds probably carried him well off shore.
Chief Lewis Craig told the Chesterton Tribune today that, based on
Monday’s wind direction and velocity—more than 30 miles per hour in the
afternoon—the USCG believes that Leonel Dominguez, 31, may have been swept
as far as four miles into Lake Michigan.
Service (NPS) spokesman Bruce Rowe did say that, while the Department of
Natural Resources had a boat in the water this morning and was using
side-mounted sonar to search for Dominguez—and that NPS may put a boat in
the water as well—all dive activity has been suspended.
According to a
statement released late last night by the Indiana Department of Natural
Resources, around 3 p.m. on Monday, Dominguez and Evelyn Hernandez were
rowing a small boat approximately one-half mile east of the Lakeview Picnic
Area in Beverly Shores and a quarter-mile off shore when they determined
they were “out too far.” An off-shore wind in excess of 30 mph and waves of
three feet, however, prevented the two from “making any headway when trying
to return to shore.”
“The wind was
pushing them away from shore faster than they could row or paddle back to
the beach,” DNR Conservation Officer Gene Davis told the Tribune.
entered the water and began swimming, pulling the boat behind him, but soon
tired and tried to return to the boat. His efforts, though, capsized the
boat—an inflatable raft apparently purchased for $20 from the Chesterton
Kmart earlier in the day, Rowe said—and “gale-force winds” blew the craft
Hernandez were forced to swim for shore, “struggling to fight the waves and
the wind,” DNR said. Hernandez, for her part, was able to yell for help and
get the attention of a man on the beach, Nick Dominguez, who swam to her and
“saved her life.”
disappeared and a search—suspended only at dark—failed to locate him. Nearly
50 responders and divers, assisted with boats equipped with side-scan sonar
and a USCG helicopter, participated in that search, DNR said.
agencies: the Porter and Chesterton fire departments’ dive/rescue teams;
NPS; DNR; USCG; and the Beverly Shores, Ogden Dunes, Portage, Burns Harbor,
and Washington Township fire departments.
CFD Capt. Jamie
Hicks said that four Chesterton divers combed an area between two sand bars
approximately 200 yards off shore and at a maximum depth of 13 feet, aided
by a tow bar attached to the ODFD’s jet ski. That method allows divers to
stay submerged for as long as 40 minutes, while unassisted swimming will
tire a diver after about 25 minutes, Hicks noted.
forced the divers out of the water. Hicks said that divers must be specially
certified for night operations, that submergible lights are prohibitively
expensive, and that in any case divers at night risk being struck by
meanwhile, formed part of a human chain and walked along the shoreline about
a mile east of Broadway, Craig said.