Coast Guard warns sightseers of high waves, strong wind after man is swept into Lake Michigan

Large waves crash along the breakwall at Diversey Harbor in Chicago after a winter storm brought gale force winds and waves as high as 10 feet to the area Feb. 25, 2016. The Coast Guard frequently responds to cases involving people swept off walls or piers due to rough seas, and encourages storm watchers to keep at a safe distance from these dangerous areas during periods of heavy weather. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Fireman Justin Zita)

Large waves crash along the breakwall at Diversey Harbor in Chicago after a winter storm brought gale force winds and waves as high as 10 feet to the area Feb. 25, 2016. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Fireman Justin Zita)

MILWAUKEE — After ending its search for a man who was swept into Lake Michigan Thursday, the Coast Guard is reminding those who wish to observe the lake’s stormy, sea-like conditions to do so from a safe location.

At approximately 11 a.m. CST Thursday, a man was overtaken by a large wave and swept into Lake Michigan while taking pictures from rocks along the shoreline at Diversey Harbor in Chicago.

The Coast Guard, Chicago Police Department and Chicago Fire Department sent helicopters and a dive team to locate the man, but ended the search Thursday evening without finding any sign of him. Weather conditions made it impossible to launch search and rescue boats, and limited visibility in the water made it difficult for divers as well.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the man’s loved ones during this extremely difficult time,” said Cmdr. Leanne Lusk of Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan. “Tragically, this accident demonstrates how dangerous Lake Michigan can be during inclement weather. We cannot express enough how vital it is to enjoy the dramatic ocean-like conditions from a safe place. No photo or storm-watching memory is worth your life.”

The winter storm season often brings waves in excess of 10 feet and winds more than 30 miles per hour.

Coast Guard search and rescue experts encourage safer alternatives for community members interested in observing the weather. Those willing to brave the weather are encouraged to stay a safe distance, approximately 25 feet, from the water, especially in areas near breaking waves. There are numerous cameras around Lake Michigan that offer online video feeds of the beaches and piers, and weather permitting, local lakefront parks or parking lots often offer safe vantage points.

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