SOUTH HAVEN, Mich. — A man and South Haven Emergency Services rescuer were taken to the hospital after a water rescue on South Beach.
SHAES Executive Director Brandon Hinz said the incident started when a woman was swept off the South Beach pier. Hinz said the woman's husband dove in after her to save her.
While the woman was able to make it to safety, Hinz said the man was unable to get out of the water. A SHAES responder, along with a number of good Samaritans, found the man and brought him to shore.
Witnesses said the man appeared extremely weak as the SHAES responder carried him out of the water.
"The body was motionless and lifeless," witness Sokol Boja said. "He looked very white from a distance."
Crews eventually helicoptered the victim to a Kalamazoo area hospital, according to Hinz. The rescuer was also admitted to the hospital after battling dangerous waves to save the man's life.
"It was exhaustion," Hinz said. "He swam out to get the victim and also swam back. On a day like today, It’s not an easy thing to do."
Hinz said twenty minutes before the emergency call came in, good Samaritans rescued three other people who were swept off the pier and into the water.
Strong winds and high water levels made for dangerous conditions along the Lake Michigan shoreline.
According to SHAES, red flags letting visitors know not to swim had been posted at the time of the incident. The National Weather Service had also posted a Hazard Beach Warning.
Officials also blocked the piers at North and South beach after the incident.
"With the high water levels and the piers as they are, a couple inches will knock you off your feet." said Hinz.
Hinz said SHAES was working to educate the public about the strength of Lake Michigan, in part by distributing thousands of beach safety maps throughout the city.
"We keep trying every year to put the word out a little bit more," he said. "That lake is very dangerous on days like this."
South Haven was not the only area experiencing rough water. Officials in Grand Haven, Mich. also closed the pier after waves swept two people into the lake. Both people were okay.