GARY, Ind. (CBS) — The body of a 12-year-old boy from south suburban Glenwood was pulled from Lake Michigan late Thursday off Marquette Beach in Gary.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources said around 5:15 p.m., first responders were called to the beach for a report that a child was missing in the water.
As CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar reported, witnesses reported the boy was wading in approximately chest-deep water with family members when they unexpectedly stepped into deeper water. While the family struggled, one of the family members noticed the boy was not on the surface.
Lifeguards on duty immediately started looking for the boy, and emergency personnel from multiple departments joined in soon afterward.
Around 6:20 p.m., a Portage Fire Department member on a personal watercraft saw the boy below the surface, and a diver from the same fire department recovered the boy. He was brought to shore and it was determined that he was dead.
12-year old boy from south suburban Glenwood drowns at Marquette Beach in Gary, In
DNR says the boy was swimming w/ family in chest deep water when they unintentionally stepped into deeper water and began to struggle. The boy went missing. Recovered an hour+ later @cbschicago pic.twitter.com/WuRHhMp8dH
— Charlie De Mar (@CharlieDeMar) July 10, 2020
The Department of Natural Resources pointed out the bottom of Lake Michigan can change in an instant, even in what some consider shallow waters.
“The bottom of Lake Michigan is a sandy bottom, and with different wave action and underwater currents, the bottom can change relatively quickly,” said Tyler Brock of the Indiana DNR. “It’s not a smooth bottom. There are sandbars, and you can go from three feet of water to a dropoff of five feet or more very quickly.”
The boy was identified as Jerail C. Lee Jr. His family was out for several hours after the boy’s body was found, and they were shaken and asked for privacy.
Indiana Conservation Officers, Gary police, and the Lake County, Indiana Coroner’s office were investigating Thursday night.