Chesterton Tribune



Illinois woman, 20, dies in high waves near Porter Beach Friday

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The Porter Volunteer Fire Department Dive Rescue Team on Sunday recovered the body of a 20 year-old Illinois woman who went missing in Lake Michigan on Friday evening while swimming at Porter Beach, Indiana Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement said.

The DNR said the woman was identified as Chase Froese of Carol Stream, Ill.

According to the DNR, some time after 7 p.m. Friday Indiana Conservation officers and other emergency personnel responded to Porter Beach to assist three female swimmers who were struggling in the water.

Porter Assistant Fire Chief Jay Craig told the Chesterton Tribune this morning that when his team arrived one of the swimmers was already safely on the beach and one bystander on a kickboard was able to reach a second swimmer and bring her to shore.

Rescue agencies however lost sight of the third swimmer between Porter Beach and the Indiana Dunes State Park, Craig said, and the water was too turbulent for dive teams to continue the search Friday.

Craig said the weather was fair that evening but winds were strong on the lake. He said there was “a good solid rip current.”

“It was rough. The waves changed constantly. I’ve been in the water many times and this was the worst I’ve ever seen it,” said Craig.

Responding to the initial call besides PFD and DNR Conservation Officers were the Coast Guard, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore rangers, Chesterton Fire, Burns Harbor Fire and Portage Fire.

The search for Froese continued early Saturday when water conditions improved and the DNR deployed underwater robots with sonar and video capabilities while the Coast Guard searched the surface by helicopter. Once lake conditions became hazardous for the robots, DNR Conservation Officers, the Coast Guard, the Indiana State Police, and Porter Fire Dive Rescue continued the search underwater, Craig said.

On Sunday, Craig said he asked the Lake County Sheriff’s Department if they would be willing to do a helicopter search. The LCSP said they would as they would be flying the helicopter to an event later in Portage.

On the fourth pass, at about 11:56 a.m. Sunday, the LCSP spotted a body floating on the lake surface about 200 yards east of where Froese was last seen, approximately 250 yards directly north of the Indiana Dunes Park Pavilion, Craig said.

The Porter Fire Dive Rescue Team recovered and carried the body to a more secluded beach area near Dune Acres, Craig said, where Froese’s family were able to positively identify her for the Porter County Coroner. The Coroner’s office has since taken custody of Froese’s body to administer a routine toxicology screening.

The DNR said the cause and manner of Froese’s death is believed to be accidental drowning. Indiana Conservation Officers and the National Lakeshore Park Rangers are conducting the investigation.


Posted 8/3/2015




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