1 Dead, At Least 2 Missing After Boat Capsizes on Lake Michigan

Officials said one man was hypothermic after being in the water for at least 12 hours

Monday, Jun 2, 2014  |  Updated 12:42 PM CDT
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The search for two boaters continued Sunday after two others were pulled from the water several miles off shore. NBC Chicago's Regina Waldroup reports for the NBC 5 NEWS on Sunday, June 1, 2014.

The search for two boaters continued Sunday after two others were pulled from the water several miles off shore. NBC Chicago's Regina Waldroup reports for the NBC 5 NEWS on Sunday, June 1, 2014.

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Officials Search for Missing Boaters in Lake Michigan

Officials are searching Lake Michigan for several passengers of a boat believed to have capsized Saturday night. A man was found floating in the water by a fisherman boat, sparking the search. Emily Florez reports.
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The United States Coast Guard on Monday morning suspended a search for two people who were still missing after the boat they were in capsized over the weekend.

The Chicago Police Department's Marine Unit, however, had one boat searching the water.

Two people were pulled from Lake Michigan on Sunday. Both of the rescued boaters were taken in critical condition to Mercy Hospital. One of them, a woman later identified as Ashley Haws, was pronounced dead.

Sunday's water rescue was underway roughly 6.5 miles from 31st Street Beach. Coast Guard officials said rescue crews were called there at around 6 a.m. by another boater who pulled one person from the water.

A second person was located later and taken to shore.

Fire officials said they extended their search in the afternoon to 10 miles out from shore and were "saturating" the area with search crews. They said the biggest challenge rescuers faced was time.

Capt. Joel Reiser said he was taking a group out fishing around 6 a.m. when he spotted an object he initially thought to be a kayak floating about 6 miles from shore. As he came closer he realized the object was a person and immediately took action.

"The instincts come in," he said. "Turned the boat around, spun him and threw him a life ring, got him aboard, got him warm, called the Coast Guard, gave the coordinates and brought him [to shore]."

The man reportedly told authorities that the boat he was on capsized, possibly after catching fire, around 7 p.m. Saturday with several other passengers aboard.

Officials said the man was hypothermic after being in the water for at least 12 hours, and some of the details surrounding the incident were unclear. The man was wearing a floating device.

According to Coast Guard officials, the incident occurred as the boat was returning from New Buffalo, Michigan to Burnham Harbor in Chicago.

Rescue crews were initially searching for four others in the water, but one of the rescued victims told authorities that two people had been dropped off before the boat capsized, according to Fire Media Affairs Director Larry Langford.

A boat fender was located in the water but whether the fender belonged to the boat that capsized is unclear, according to authorities.

The water temperature Sunday morning was reported to be fewer than 60 degrees, according to Deputy District Chief Ron Dorneker with the Chicago Fire Department.

The Chicago Fire Department, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Chicago Police Department's Marine Unit and several aircraft and rescue boats were involved in the search.

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