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Search for possible drowning called off in South Haven

South Haven Police investigating possible drowning in Lake Michigan.
South Haven Police investigating possible drowning in Lake Michigan.
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SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Crews in south haven call off a search for a man who witnesses said fell off the pier late Friday night.

Crews officially called off the search after finding no evidence that a man was in the water. They hope he swam out of the water undetected.

Rescue crews, including a Coast Guard helicopter searched Lake Michigan starting early Saturday morning.

The Van Buren County Dive Team scoured the waters around the South Haven pier.

Mike Kalimowski, Rockford, said, “They were not holding back. They had this section closed off and you can see the boats go up and down the channel.”

A corner of the beach was closed off during the all-day search, which started on Friday around 11 p.m.

Witnesses said a man, who was alone, walked off the pier and fell into the water.

Van Buren County Sheriff Dan Abbott said, “We had very credible witnesses last night. We're hoping at this point that whoever went in the water last night it was dark enough that the four witnesses didn't see him swim out at a different angle or something.”

Witnesses saw a Detroit Lions baseball cap floating in the area.

Law enforcement was hopeful earlier in the day after getting a tip about a missing person who matched the description, but hours later the lead fizzled out.

Abbott said, “The subject that matched the description was found up in Kalamazoo safe and sound.”

Abbot said the circumstances are unclear as to how the man fell in.

South Haven officials stiffened penalties for anyone jumping or diving from the pier years ago and police say there are fewer incidents partly because of the penalties, which can include jail time.

Abbott said, “What a lot of folks don't realize about this pier. There's a lot of undertow, there's a lot of concrete and rocks, and it’s shallower than people realize.”

And many who visit this beach know it can be dangerous territory.

Kalimowski said, “So it doesn't take much and if he gets tossed around, especially in the dark.”

At this point, authorities are not planning any searches, unless they get more credible tips.

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Anyone with information is urged to call the local authorities.

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