Search enters fourth day for missing Berrien Springs mother, school teacher

Published: May. 10, 2023 at 7:02 PM EDT
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BERRIEN SPRINGS, Mich. (WNDU) - The number of crews searching for a possible drowning victim increased on Wednesday along the St. Joseph River in Berrien County.

Police believe Shirani Simpson, 42, disappeared underwater after trying to save her 8-year-old son on Sunday who was struggling in the river. Firefighters found the child alive and hanging onto a tree in the water.

On Wednesday, Andrews University confirmed Simpson studied at the university and was the Spanish teacher at Great Lakes Montessori in St. Joseph.

Michigan State Police and Berrien County Police assisted Berrien Springs Oronoko Township Police and Fire Departments in the ongoing search for Simpson’s body.

Fire Chief Doug Myers asked area boaters to be mindful of the search area while crews are on the water.

“If they felt compelled to search areas outside of our search area, that’s fine,” said Myers. “Unfortunately, if we get too many boats in the area, that interferes with the equipment that we’re using to be able to search.”

Avid canoer Tom Lahvic said the Sunday situation reminds him of a memorial he regularly passes, erected for a Baroda man who drowned in 2020 while trying to save a child.

“It struck me that [it’s a] very similar, very similar tragedy. And it made me think about swimming skills - basic swimming skills and just awareness of the dangers of this river,” said Lahvic.

Crews will resume their search on Thursday.