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Michigan beachgoers formed human chains into Lake Michigan on Sunday to help rescue swimmers caught in rough waves that were blamed for two deaths and three-near drownings.

The Grand Haven Department of Public Safety said in a news release the multiple water rescues took place at Grand Haven State Park Beach starting at 12 p.m., leading to a full beach closure.

The article goes on to state the following:

The first incident came in at 12:05 p.m., when a swimmer was reported struggling in the water and bystanders formed a human chain to help search for the man. Officials told FOX17 that David Knaffle, 64, of Wyoming was located around 12:14 p.m., but was found unresponsive and later died.

Nearly four hours later, the department said a 20-year-old man from Lansing was pulled from the water. He also died.

Below is the full press release from the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety:

“Drownings and Rescues at Grand Haven State Park”

Date: 8-5-2018

Times: 12:05pm, 3:22pm, 3:48pm

Location: Grand Haven State Park Beach

Officers from the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety responded to multiple water rescue calls at Grand Haven State Park Beach.

Several swimmers experienced distress while swimming in hazardous wave conditions.

Two victims drowned, one is in serious condition, and two are in stable condition.

Other swimmers in distress were able to self-rescue or with bystanders assisting.

Individual incidents as follows:

12:05PM – Officers responded to a report of a swimmer struggling in the water near the State Park Pavilion building. Witnesses reported the man was not wearing a life jacket.

An off duty East Grand Rapids Fire Fighter entered the water and attempted to locate the victim.

Five Public Safety Officers and a Park Ranger then entered the water to search for the man. Officers received assistance from bystanders to form a human chain. The victim was located at 12:17PM using the human chain search method.

The victim was unresponsive and GHDPS officers performed CPR. He was transported to NOCH by NOCH Paramedics where he later passed away.

The victim has been identified as:

David Knaffle, age 64 from Wyoming MI

GHDPS was assisted by State Park Personnel, United States Coast Guard Station Grand Haven, Ottawa County Sheriff Department, and NOCH Paramedics.

3:22PM – Bystanders pulled a 46 year old Alto man from the water. GHDPS Officers and NOCH Paramedics provided care. The man has been admitted to NOCH in serious condition.

3:48PM – Officers responded to the report of multiple swimmers struggling in the water north of the pavilion building. Bystanders had pulled 5 swimmers from the water, including a 20 year old man from Lake MI and a 17 year old woman from Lake MI. Both victims from Lake MI were admitted to NOCH.

Officers formed several human chains with assistance from bystanders in search of a swimmer that was reported to have gone under the water. Officers located the man in approximately 5 feet of water and then performed CPR. He was transported to NOCH and pronounced dead.

The victim is a 20 year old man from Lansing. Notification to relatives is pending.

Additional reports of possible swimmers in distress were received simultaneously for areas near City Beach and south of City Beach. More than twenty Fire Fighters and Police Officers were assigned to rescue teams to search for possible victims. The additional reports and searches did not yield results and no other people have been reported missing.

GHDPS was assisted by the Grand Haven Township Fire Department, Spring Lake Fire Department, Ferrysburg Fire Department, Robinson Township Fire Department, Ottawa County Dive Team, Ottawa County Sheriff Department, NOCH Paramedics, and State Park personnel.

Jeff Hawke
Director of Public Safety

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