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Beachgoers Form Human Chain During Desperate Search for 64-Yr-Old Trapped Beneath Waves

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Water is wonderful to enjoy in all sorts of ways. To drink, to bathe in, to look at — not only is the stuff essential for life, it also enriches our existence in ways we too rarely think about.

If you’ve ever lived near a large body of water, you understand the joy it can bring. And one of the best things to do is pop on a swimsuit and go for dip.

But you know what else we tend to forget? Water is dangerous, no matter our strength or the time we’ve spent practicing our backstroke.

On August 5, a fine day in the waters of Lake Michigan suddenly turned deadly. MLive reported that warm weather had packed the beaches around the lake.



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But that concentration of people turned into disaster. An officer from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources explained to the Grand Haven Tribune that a longshore current (a current that moves parallel to the coast) and several rip tides (currents that move away from the coast) were active.

“People shouldn’t be in the water,” he said. It wasn’t as though the swimmers weren’t aware of the risk.

A red flag, indicating hazardous conditions, had been posted the previous day. What’s more, three-to-five-foot waves rose and fell off of the lake.

Still, people continued to plunge into the surf. And as they did so, they found themselves fighting for their lives.

WXMI reported that five people ended up getting dragged away by the waves. Three were able to make their way to shore under their own power.

But 20-year-old Jeremiah Diaz passed away after rescuers drew him out of five feet of water. And bystanders went to dramatic lengths to reach 64-year-old David Knaffle.

After the current seized Knaffle and yanked him away from shore, scores of people formed a human chain to reach him. “Probably 30 to 40 people formed the chain,” Luke Nordlund said.



“But [we] had to split into two sections because it was getting too deep. … I’m 6-foot-7 and over 250 pounds, and I almost got knocked over myself.”

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Izzy Lokers was another individual who participated in the rescue attempt. “There was a human chain down that way,” she said.

“There were two down that way and one down this way. And pretty much everybody was just linking arms and walking out as far as they could.”

Eventually, they reached Knaffle and got him back to the beach to perform CPR. Tragically, it was too late: Despite lingering for a while in critical condition, he passed away.

The frightening situation ultimately closed the city beach, Grand Haven State Park and multiple piers, serving as an important reminder that we should always obey warnings and never underestimate the water’s strength.

And thanks to the efforts of bystanders and emergency responders, three other swimmers were able to be rescued from the rough waters and taken to the hospital.

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A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine.
A graduate of Wheaton College with a degree in literature, Loren also adores language. He has served as assistant editor for Plugged In magazine and copy editor for Wildlife Photographic magazine. Most days find him crafting copy for corporate and small-business clients, but he also occasionally indulges in creative writing. His short fiction has appeared in a number of anthologies and magazines. Loren currently lives in south Florida with his wife and three children.
Education
Wheaton College
Location
Florida
Languages Spoken
English
Topics of Expertise
Entertainment, Faith, Travel




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