Man Posing for Photos Along Lake Michigan Drowns

Earl Helmuth, an Amish man, did not know how to swim
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 21, 2015 7:22 AM CDT
Man Posing for Photos Along Lake Michigan Drowns
The "blood moon" sets over Lake Michigan near the Michigan City, Ind. lighthouse on Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014.   (AP Photo/The News Dispatch, Paul Kemiel)

On Saturday night a 24-year-old Indiana man posed for photos alongside the woman he was due to marry; it was the last thing the two would do together. Earl Helmuth was swept off a lighthouse pier in Michigan City, Ind., by a wave thought to be at least 7 feet high. His fiancée was thrown into the water with him, as were the other two couples who were taking photos with them. The Amish man, 24, did not know how to swim and drowned, reports the Chicago Tribune. His fiancée and two others were able to make their way back to the rocky pier, while the remaining two friends were picked up by the Coast Guard.

None of the survivors were injured, "which is pretty amazing because there are rocks you can crash into, and there's rebar around that structure," Indiana Department of Resources conservation officer Sgt. Shawn Brown tells the Elkhart Truth. Brown says many others have been swept into the lake at the site in the past, and some have died. The pier, which serves as a breakwall, stands between a city park and the much-photographed Michigan City lighthouse. There are caution signs, but no warning system in the event of big waves or treacherous conditions, nor are there any flotation devices kept at the pier's end. Helmuth, who lived in Nappanee, Ind., was found in 12 feet of water near the pier by a dive team Sunday morning. "It’s just a tragic situation," Brown said. "It seems like it happened so fast." (This homecoming queen drowned on prom night earlier this year.)

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