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Firefighters Swept Off Pier During Lake Michigan Rescue Attempt

TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY

John Agar

The Patriot-News, Harrisburg, Pa.

(TNS)

MUSKEGON, MI – Eight firefighters were swept into Lake Michigan during a dramatic rescue attempt late Sunday, Nov. 15, on the south pier at Pere Marquette Park.

All together, nine firefighters were injured. One suffered serious injuries and was hospitalized.

The search resumed Monday morning for the body of Lance Jenkins, 29, of Fruitport Township.

He was swept off the pier with two others who got back to the pier. Waves reached 12 feet, with wind gusts over 50 mph.

The first rescuers on scene saw the man clinging to rocks on the north side of the pier at the Muskegon channel. Two firefighters approached from the beach while four others got into a rescue boat.

Waves pummeled the pier as firefighters on shore made their way out. They made several tries to reach the victim before one of them was swept off the pier into the water. The firefighter was injured but managed to get back to the pier.

Muskegon firefighters reorganized with Norton Shores firefighters. That “crew made valiant efforts to reach the victim, but they, too, sustained injuries after being swept off the pier twice,” Muskegon Professional Firefighters Union – IAFF Local 370 said on its Facebook page.

Muskegon firefighters on the rescue boat “faced deadly conditions” and were not able to rescue the man from the water. A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter from Traverse City Air Station responded but conditions were too rough for an air rescue, firefighters said.

The Coast Guard and North Muskegon firefighters, backed by Muskegon and Norton Shores firefighters, then tried another land rescue before five of them were swept into the water.

“After many tense minutes, all rescuers were pulled from the water,” the firefighters’ union said.

One of them was taken by ambulance to the hospital while eight others suffered less serious injuries.

“Unfortunately, all rescue options were exhausted and the mission turned to recovery. Our thoughts are with the family and friends of the victim at this difficult time,” the firefighters’ union said.

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