Man drowns after jumping from Silver Beach pier

Silver Beach was crowded Tuesday, with hundreds of people enjoying the cool waters of Lake Michigan.

We also found many young people diving off the south pier to cool off.

“I do it because it's fun. It's like a big adrenalin rush just to jump in,” said one young woman.

"I think it's stupid to jump off because it's really dangerous and you don't know what can happen when you jump in," said Doug Graham.

Jumping off the pier proved deadly, for a man between the age of 34 and 40. Witnesses walking on the pier called 911.

“They witnessed an individual jump of the pier on the top of the railing, belly flopped into silver beach side of Lake Michigan, started swimming for a short period of time, and started yelling for help and went under the water and did not resurface,” said Sgt. Steve Neubecker of the St. Joseph City Police Dept.

One person tried to help, but the man was about five feet off the pier and could not be reached.

An hour and a half after the man went under, NewsCenters 16's St Joseph Skyview camera captured the man's body being recovered. He was pronounced dead at the hospital.

“It's scary,” said Jake Taylor. “Not worth it almost. It just makes me feel like, wonder what the guy was thinking when he went under water, like if he could just take that moment back.”

And some jumpers are reflecting for a moment about their future jumps.

“I do some pretty crazy stuff over this rail,” said Taylor, “It's been about three years, I have done a lot of stuff and never drowned or anything, but it's definitely a big heads up. I don't know if I am going to do it anymore, you know.”

Police also stress that the pier is for walking and not to jump into the water.

“Due to the rip currents in Lake Michigan and because of the shallowness of where you are jumping off and the rocks at the bottom of the lake, we advise that it is very dangerous. I've personally handled probably 10 drownings in my 18 year career off of the south pier,” said Sgt. Neubecker.

Despite the risks, some people we talked to will continue to jump.

I didn't really see anything. It was the first time I heard about somebody dying, but it's still fun to jump off this thing,” said Josh Smith. “That's why I do it, it’s fun.”

Police say there are no laws prohibiting people from jumping off of the pier, but will continue to stress the importance using the pier for sight seeing, not jumping.

The beach has life guards and is a safe place to cool off.


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