Chesterton Tribune

Search for Portage boy feared drowned in Lake

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The search resumed this morning for a 15-year-old Portage boy feared drowned on Sunday while swimming at the Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk site at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources identified the boy as Corey McFry.

DNR said that, around 5:30 p.m., McFry and three friends were swimming in four-foot waves off the beach when he either stepped off, or was knocked off, a sandbar. He went under the water and then disappeared.

Two of McFry’s friends searched for him while the third swam to shore to call 911.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Police helicopter assisted with the search, as did the U.S. Coast Guard, and dive/rescue teams from the Portage, Porter, Chesterton, Burns Harbor, and Ogden Dunes fire departments.

The CFD sent four divers, the PFD its two boats and divers, but water conditions were too rough to permit diving, PFD Chief Lewis Craig told the Chesterton Tribune today. Instead, divers formed a human chain from the shore and swept the area manually.

Today, Craig added, the PFD’s dive/rescue team was scheduled to assist in the search as it resumed this morning.

DNR noted that a rip-current advisory was in effect at the time of McFry’s disappearance.

DNR also noted that the Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk site is an unguarded beach at the National Lakeshore. Only one beach at the National Lakeshore is, in fact, guarded: West Beach.

McFry would be the second person drowned at the National Lakeshore this summer. On June 18, Leonel Dominguez, 31, of Bronx, N.Y., was swept into Lake Michigan by strong south/southwest winds after the inflatable raft on which he was floating capsized. His body was recovered on June 23.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), rip currents are channeled currents of water flowing away from shore, formed on Lake Michigan when north winds push masses of water to the shore, where they build up until finally forcing a passage back into the lake through a sand bar. Even the strongest swimmer isn’t strong enough to fight against a rip current, and NOAA advises persons instead not to fight against it but rather to escape it by swimming parallel to shore until they are free of it, then swimming at an angle—away from the current—toward shore.


Posted 7/9/2012