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GARY, Ind. — A 12-year-old boy drowned at Marquette Beach in Gary, Indiana, according to authorities.

A four to five members of a family visiting from Glenwood, Illinois, were in the water around 5 p.m. Thursday.

Eyewitnesses told WGN News they saw the family walking parallel to the beach about 15 feet off shore, in knee to waist deep water around 5:15 p.m. The witnesses said the family suddenly dropped off a sand bar and were in water over their heads.

“The entire family began to struggle all together,” Tyler Brock, spokesperson for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources said. “While they were struggling, one of the family members noticed a 12-year-old male was no longer at the surface.”

The family called for help and a multi-agency search was quickly underway.

A Coast Guard helicopter scanned from above and members of several nearby fire departments responded.

A member of the Portage Fire Department on a jet ski found the boy under the surface of the water about 75 feet off shore.  

The boy’s body was recovered at 6:20 p.m., a little more than an hour after he went under.

This beach was open and lifeguards were on duty. There were no advisories for rough water.

That family had only been here about a half-hour before the incident. Officials said they did not have life vests on. Officials stress beachgoers who cannot swim, even while wading in shallow water, should wear life vests given the uneven conditions on the lake floor.