Mother of South Bend teen missing in Lake Michigan speaks out

MICHIGAN CITY, Ind. (WNDU) - The search continues four days after a South Bend teen went missing at a Michigan City beach, and his mother continues to speak out, demanding her son be found.

Yolanda Mason said she does not feel enough is being done to find her missing son, Ra-hem. She thinks authorities should close down the entire beach while her son remains missing.

On Saturday around 7 p.m., witnesses said they saw 17-year-old Ra-hem go underwater and then did not see him resurface.

Michigan City firefighters arrived to search the water, but high waves and currents prevented a search by divers. The U.S. Coast Guard searched by boat and by air.

Mason’s mother said she believes there should have been more warning signs about dangerous conditions at the beach, and she hopes more is done in the future to prevent deaths.

“Right behind me is where I dropped my son off every day to play basketball,” Yolanda Mason said. “That’s why I’m not in Michigan City today, because I wanted to bring it home so people in South Bend can know my son was a great kid. I don’t have any complaints. That’s why I’m not falling all out and crying and doing all this, because I have special memories of my child.

“All I want is for them to bring him to me. By any way, shape, form or fashion, just bring me my baby. I deserve that much, and what he deserves is for them to change what they’ve been doing.”

A couple near La Porte heard the story on NewsCenter 16 this week and reached out to us. They said they lost their son when he was swept off the pier at the same beach in December.

Their son, Slater Harkleroad, was just 20 years old when he died.

They said it took their son’s friend almost 20 minutes to find help after he and Harkleroad were swept off the pier, and they feel more safety measures should be implemented at the beach.

Harkleroad’s mother says when she heard the story of Ra-hem Mason, her heart went out to the family. The Harkleroad family knows all too well the nightmare Mason’s family is going through now.

“I’ve just been so lost without [my son],” Carolyn Harkleroad said. “I imagine what [Yolanda Mason] is going through. It’s hell. It’s a living hell, and it’s like nobody cares.”

“Her son lost his life in the same way just back in December, and here it is July, and they still have the same thing going on,” Yolanda Mason said. “Something has to change. Something will change.”

Stay with NewsCenter 16 on the air and online as we continue to follow this story as the search for Ra-hem Mason continues.