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2 drown at Grand Haven State Park; beachgoers form human chain in effort to rescue swimmers

Officials: Waves were between 3 and 5 feet Sunday

Beachgoers at Grand Haven State Park formed a human chain Sunday in an effort to save swimmers caught in strong tides. (Becky Vargo / Grand Haven Tribune)
Beachgoers at Grand Haven State Park formed a human chain Sunday in an effort to save swimmers caught in strong tides. (Becky Vargo / Grand Haven Tribune)

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. – Two people drowned and others were injured in Lake Michigan on Sunday after getting caught in rip currents, officials said.

David Knaffle, 64, of Wyoming, was pulled from the water at Grand Haven State Park shortly after noon, WOOD-TV reports.

Crews initially responded to a report of a man struggling in the water. Emergency responders got beachgoers to form a human chain and retrieve Knaffle. He was taken to a nearby hospital where he later died, according officials.

Video posted by the Grand Haven Tribune shows one of the human-chain rescue attempts.

Watch the video above.

Emergency responders were again called to the area about 3:45 p.m. on a report of several swimmers struggling. Six more people had to be pulled from the water, according to officials. 

One of them, a 20-year-old Lansing man, was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead, police said. A 17-year-old girl and a 20-year-old man were hospitalized and later listed in stable condition.

A 46-year-old Alto man was also pulled from the water by bystanders and hospitalized in serious condition.

After the second drowning, beachgoers were told to stay out of the water. Park rangers were seen patrolling the beach with a loudspeaker advising people, "Please stay out of the water."

Wave heights were between three and five feet Sunday, according to officials. The Grand Haven Department of Public Safety called the conditions "hazardous." One beachgoer said red flags, indicating that it's not safe to swim, were flying prior to the rescues.

Watch WOOD-TV's report below:


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