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Drowning victim was a Silver Beach Pizza employee

Published: Mar. 29, 2021 at 6:10 PM EDT
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ST. JOPSEPH, Mich. (WNDU) - UPDATE: The victim has been identified as 27-year-old Dakota Yergeau from St. Joseph.

The search continues for the body of a young man who drowned Sunday after a wave swept him off the Silver Beach South Pier. On Monday, Silver Beach Pizza announced on Facebook it was closed, as the drowning victim was a long-time employee.

The tragedy hits home with St. Joseph resident, Ervin Wagner, whose older brother drowned decades ago while trying to save a friend who dove off the North Pier.

“He was 13-years-old. He was an excellent swimmer,” said Wagner.

His brother’s friend, the one who had been struggling to swim, managed to make his way safety. The Sunday tragedy reopened the wounds for Wagner.

“My brother drowned, and I didn’t like it then. And I don’t like it now,” he said. “Block off the pier!”

At the opening of the pier sits a sign listing the various dangers of walking on and jumping from the pier. The pier also has a life ring and what appears to be several orange safety ladders.

The windy day on Monday had Janet Miller sticking close to the beach’s playground with her grandchildren.

“It’s pretty scary out there. That pier gets slick when it’s wet in the summertime, even when it’s not wavy. If it’s wet you can fall,” she described. “You have to respect the lake. It’s a dangerous lake.”

16 News Now is awaiting calls back from Silver Beach County Park and the City of St. Joseph to see if it’s possible for the pier to be blocked off during times of high winds and dangerous waves.

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