GRAND HAVEN, Mich. - Several water rescues in Grand Haven prompted the Department of Public Safety to tell beachgoers at the state park and the City Beach to stay out of the water on Sunday, Aug. 5.

Five people were pulled out of the water by the authorities. Two people drowned and three people were hospitalized.

The first report of a swimmer in distress came to the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety just after 12 p.m. The swimmer, 64-year-old David Knaffle from Wyoming, was struggling in the water near the State Park Pavilion building, and witnesses said he was not wearing a life jacket.

An off-duty firefighter from East Grand Rapids tried to rescue Knaffle. Then five officers and park ranger started to search for him. Bystanders also assisted the authorities by forming a human chain. Knaffle was located at 12:17 p.m. because of the human chain method.

Water rescue in Grand Haven, human chain
Grand Haven Tribune/Becky Vargo

The 64-year-old was unresponsive when he was pulled out of the water. He was transported to the hospital where he later died.

Just three hours later, around 3:20 p.m., bystanders pulled a 46-year-old Alto man from the water. He was admitted to the hospital and listed in stable condition.

Then at 3:48 p.m., there were multiple reports made to police of swimmers struggling in the water north of the pavilion. Bystanders managed to pull five swimmers out of the water, including a 20-year-old man and a 17-year-old girl from Lake, Michigan.

Both of those swimmers were brought to the hospital. They are in stable condition.

Several human chains were formed with the help of bystanders to find a swimmer that reportedly went under the water. Officers found the 20-year-old man from Lansing in five feet of water and performed CPR.

He was also transported to the hospital but was pronounced dead. He has been identified as Jeremiah Diaz.

Water rescue in Grand Haven, human chain
Grand Haven Tribune/Becky Vargo

The Grand Haven Department of Safety said that they received additional reports of other possible swimmers in distress near the City Beach and south of City Beach. But those reports and subsequent searches did not result in finding anyone else. There are also no other people reported missing.

More than 20 firefighters and police officers were a part of rescue teams that searched for possible victims.

A beach hazard statement was issued for Ottawa County at 2 p.m. on Sunday for high waves, strong currents and dangerous swimming conditions.

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