Bystanders help pull swimmers from lake; 1 dead

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — A Lansing man died after going under the water in Lake Michigan Sunday, the second person to die and one of several who had to be pulled from the water at Grand Haven on the same day.

The Grand Haven Department of Public Safety says emergency responders were called to the area of the State Park Pavilion around 3:45 p.m. on a report of several swimmers struggling.

They organized human chains with bystanders to find one of the swimmers, who had gone under. He was ultimately recovered from about 5 feet of water.

"They were performing CPR for a good five minutes that I observed," passerby Michael Diep recalled.

The man was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. He was later identified as 20-year-old Jeremiah Diaz of Lansing. 

Bystanders had already pulled five other swimmers from the water in the same area before emergency crews arrived.

"In this one area, five people came up all at once, essentially, in such a short amount of time," Diep said.

Two of them, a 17-year-old girl and a 20-year-old man, were hospitalized. They were later listed in stable condition at North Ottawa Community Hospital.

Less than half an hour before the incident with multiple victims, a 46-year-old Alto man was pulled from the water by bystanders. He was hospitalized in serious condition.

Hours earlier, shortly after noon, 64-year-old David Knaffle of Wyoming was pulled from the lake, also by emergency responders and bystanders forming a human chain. He later died at the hospital.

Wave heights were between 3 and 5 feet Sunday — conditions DPS called "hazardous" — and there was a high swim risk. A beachgoer said red flags, which indicate it's not safe to swim, were flying before the rescues.

"I went in it, too, right before everything happened," Diep said. "It was powerful. I haven't really seen anything like it before."

After the second death, officials told people not to go into the lake at the state park and city beach. State park rangers could be seen driving along the shore in an ORV.

"Please stay out of the water," one said over a loudspeaker. "Stay out of the water."

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