MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. — The search continued Sunday afternoon for a South Bend teen who went missing after swimming in Lake Michigan.
The teen, identified as Ra’hem Mason, 17, went swimming with his church group at Washington Park Beach in Michigan City and was swept away in the strong current around 7 p.m. Saturday.
The water search was suspended, due to dangerous conditions. State and local emergency responders are still looking along the shoreline and will continue to search for the teen on land until a water search can be resumed when the water calms down.
The teen’s mother, Yolanda Mason, fears her son may have drowned.
“The current came and it pulled him back, and my daughter said when she got the water out of her eye,s because a big wave came and hit her, and when she cleared her eyes, she saw my son reaching up and trying to get some help to get back to from where he was being pulled to, and they didn’t see him any more,” she said.
She said she’s hurt and distraught.
“Just yesterday before 8 o’clock, my son was living,” she said. “I am hurt.”
On Saturday, a LaPorte County ambulance was standing by in hope of a rescue, but a police chaplain was also on hand in case a body was recovered. By evening, authorities were classifying it as a recovery operation.
“At this point it’s really a recovery effort, there’s been no sign of him since he was reported missing last night,” Tyler Brock, conservation officer at the Indiana DNR, said.
The water search was suspended, as the U.S. Coast Guard boat seemed to struggle in the rough water, putting more lives at risk.
The teen’s mother said she’s not getting any answers.
“They didn’t do enough, and whoever owns this beach didn’t do enough for the safety of the people,” Mason said.
As the search for the teen’s body continued, authorities had advice for everyone at the beach on this dangerous day — stay out of the water.
Police said the beach is staffed with lifeguards, but only until 6 p.m.