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8 first-responders swept off pier in Lake Michigan rescue attempt

The Detroit News

Muskegon — Eight Muskegon-area first-responders were swept into Lake Michigan on Sunday night during an effort to rescue two victims in the water off the Muskegon Channel.

A 29-year-old Fruitport Township man was missing and several firefighters were treated for injuries from the water rescue shortly after 10 p.m. Sunday during 50 mile per hour winds and waves of 12 feet and higher along the pier.

The Muskegon Fire Department said Monday night that no one was available to comment on the rescue effort but the Muskegon Firefighters Union website gave the following account:

“Firefighters were dispatched to a water emergency on Lake Michigan at the Muskegon Channel. Initial information was two victims in the water at the south arm of the break wall. While en route, dispatch advised one victim had made it to shore while a second was clinging to the rocks."

A crew of two emergency responders moved to Pere Marquette Beach while the remaining four on-duty personnel responded to staff a rescue boat and began to search for the second victim on the on the rocks.

Multiple attempts were made to reach the victim, during which a firefighter was swept off the pier, according to the union’s post.

“The injured crew member self-rescued and the team reorganized for a second attempt led by arriving mutual aid from the Norton Shores Fire Department. Emergency responders received multiple injuries after being swept off the pier twice. Muskegon Fire Department members on the boat could not make rescues during the conditions and fire crews redeployed to provide land support to the U.S. Coast Guard and a helicopter.

Rescue by air was also unsuccessful and other land rescue efforts were made by several fire departments and the Coast Guard. Five people also were swept into the water but also pulled out, according to the post.

One firefighter was hospitalized for treatment; other responders sustained at least minor injuries.

As of Monday, there were still recovery efforts underway for at least one missing man, according to authorities.

mmartindale@detroitnews.com

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