BERRIEN COUNTY, Mich. – In Berrien County multiple water rescue scenes played out Sunday on Lake Michigan beaches – two of them resulting in deaths.
The national weather service had already issued rip current statements warning of the high waves when the emergency calls came in.
The coast guard was called out to Tiscornia Beach in St. Joe when a swimmer got in trouble in the water. When the 41-year-old man from Illinois was pulled out he was unconscious and in 12 feet of water. By the time he got to the hospital, he was dead
Conditions in the water were dangerous at the time of the drowning. Waves were estimated to be at least 6 to 8 feet high... This is a beach with no lifeguards and no red flag system.
Not long after the first rescue at Tiscornia, Berrien County's marine units had to hit the water to save two boogie boarders who got into trouble. They were okay.
Earlier on Cherry Beach in Chikaming Township, another man drowned while trying to be a good samaritan. Berrien County police say around 10:30 Sunday morning two young kayakers got caught in the high waves and rip currents and were in trouble. 50-year-old pediatric surgeon Dr. Donald Liu swam to help them but got in trouble himself and drowned. Liu, who was a surgeon at the University of Chicago Medical Center, was found about a half-hour after the rescue began. Medics tried to administer CPR but could not save him.
The kayakers survived the treacherous waters.
The rip current warnings remain in effect for the Lake Michigan beaches in our area through Monday morning due to the northerly winds that are blowing.