UPDATE: Two dead after fighting Lake Michigan waves

By: Kevin Lewis Email
By: Kevin Lewis Email

A 15-year-old boy and a 37-year-old man are dead after two separate water emergencies Saturday afternoon.

Matthew Kocher, 15, from Tinley Park, Ill., was swimming around 3:35 p.m. EST, about 100 feet offshore from the city’s public beach. Waves of three to six feet and northwest winds of 10 to 20 miles per hour issued rip currents, which began to drag the teen toward the center of the lake.

According to New Buffalo Police Chief Larry Pitchford, a team of lifeguards ran into the water and managed to grab hold of Kocher, who was not wearing a life jacket. CPR was administered on the beach until Medic One transported him to Franciscan St. Anthony’s Health Hospital in Michigan City. He was later airlifted to the University of Chicago Medical Center where doctors pronounced him dead at 9:21 p.m. EST Saturday.

Despite this being New Buffalo’s first drowning this year, Chief Pitchford said city lifeguards have performed 25 rescues since Memorial Day weekend. He also said red flags were on display Saturday, warning beach-goers of the rip current hazards.

The other local water incident took place at the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore near Beverly Shores, Ind. in Porter County.
Around 6:30 p.m. EST, Gonzola Silva, 37, of Lafayette, Ind. was swimming with several other individuals along Lakeview Beach when he became distressed and went underwater.

Two family members attempted to help Silva, but were also overcome by rip currents. National Park Service Rangers, the Beverly Shores Fire Department and Porter Fire Department Water Rescue Team managed to rescue Silva’s family members.

The 37-year-old’s body surfaced some 20 minutes later in choppy surf about 10 feet out and 40 feet down shore. First responders immediately started CPR on Silva who was unconscious and not breathing. They later applied an AED to initiate a pulse.

Paramedics transported him to St. Anthony's Hospital in Michigan City in critical condition. Silva died at around 10:30 p.m. EST Saturday.

Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore spokesman Ken Mahee tells NewsCenter 16, Silva was initially in an incubator and utilizing a respiratory device in the medical center’s intensive care unit.

According to the U.S. Coast Guard, no other water rescues were reported on Lake Michigan Saturday.

The National Weather Service had issued a Hazardous Beach Advisory for Saturday afternoon through Monday morning with waves expected to be in the range of 4-5 feet. Officials advise all beachgoers to stay out of the water.


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