Authorities identify teen swept into Lake Michigan from pier

Christine Ferretti
The Detroit News

Authorities have identified a teenage girl who was swept into Lake Michigan off a state pier by a large wave late Wednesday. 

Eliza Jane Trainer

The Ottawa County Sheriff's Office says 16-year-old Eliza Jane Trainer of Flushing fell off the Holland State Park pier around 11:30 p.m. Wednesday. An 18-year-old friend who also was knocked into the water was able to get out and call for help.

Sgt. Jay Douglas told WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids on Thursday morning that Trainer was "presumed drowned" and the search had turned from a rescue into a recovery mission.

By Thursday afternoon, search crews remained unable to get boats or divers into the water due to weather conditions, Capt. Jake Sparks of the Ottawa County sheriff's office told The Detroit News.

"We're waiting for a weather window to be able to get boats or divers in the water, and we just can't do that right now," he said. "It's just too rough out there."

Trainer recently took to Instagram as the new year approached, writing "here's to another year of chances."

By late Thursday, there were 60 comments added to the post from friends expressing their love for Trainer and wishes for her to "rest easy."

An October post on the social media page depicts Trainer in a long red gown for a homecoming dance.

According to a preliminary investigation, Trainer and the other teen were on the pier at Holland State Park when a large wave hit the dock and knocked them both into the water. He managed to get himself out of the water, she did not. 

The teen was treated at a hospital and released to his family on Thursday. Sparks declined to identify the teen, saying only he sustained some injuries after falling into the cold water.

Sparks said earlier Thursday that Trainer's family is not in Holland and she'd been in Holland with a friend, "visiting the area."

Rescue crews search Thursday for a 16-year-old girl who fell into Lake Michigan after a wave hit the pier at Holland State Park the night before.

Relatives of Trainer reached by The News on Thursday declined to comment. 

Lake conditions: Family cottage slides off Lake Michigan bluff

Douglas said the teens were at the pier to see Lake Michigan because they had "never seen the lake before."

Helicopters continued off and on throughout Thursday to scan the water and shoreline for Trainer. The search was called off for the day around 4 p.m. and officials expected to resume the effort Friday, WOOD-TV reported. 

Firefighters, police and the U.S. Coast Guard conducted searches for the teen girl along the shoreline. Coast Guard helicopters from Traverse City and Detroit also joined the search. 

Sparks said authorities are closely monitoring the forecast and conditions and anticipate a window Friday morning to search further, he said. 

"We're going to do everything we can to try to find her," he said. "At this point, it’s a very tough situation with the conditions out there and the water temperatures."

Last year, there were a total of 93 drownings on the Great Lakes and 47 of those happened in Lake Michigan, according to the latest statistics from the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project. In 2018, there were 117. Since 2010, there have been more than 830 drownings on the lakes.

The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project is a nonprofit that tracks drowning statistics and teaches water safety classes with the goal of reducing the number of drownings on the Great Lakes.

"Lake Michigan isn't a joke, it's dangerous," Douglas said. "These conditions are not conducive to being out on the pier. Add that to being out there at night, it's a very dangerous situation."