Blue Island councilman's body recovered from lake near Whihala Beach

2013-07-19T12:26:00Z 2013-07-20T15:48:25Z Blue Island councilman's body recovered from lake near Whihala BeachLauri Harvey Keagle, (219) 852-4311

HAMMOND | The body of a 50-year-old Blue Island city councilman who went missing in Lake Michigan near Whihala Beach while boating with friends Thursday was recovered late Thursday night.

Michael Janko, of the 2600 block of 122nd Place, was pronounced dead at 11:45 p.m., according to a spokeswoman for the Lake County coroner's office.

The cause and manner of death were pending an autopsy scheduled for Friday. Those results were not available Friday night.

The coroner's report said Janko's body was recovered 600 yards off the Whihala Beach shoreline after a nearly eight-hour search by air, water and land that covered more than 40 nautical miles.

A report from the U.S. Coast Guard said Janko was boating with friends a quarter of a mile north of Whihala Beach when he jumped into the water. Friends told investigators Janko resurfaced, but was unresponsive.

Another swimmer grabbed Janko, but could not hold onto him. Janko then went under the water and did not resurface, the Coast Guard report said.

He was not wearing a life jacket.

"We really want to stress the importance of life jackets, even for experienced swimmers out on boats," Chief Petty Officer Alan Haraf of the U.S. Coast Guard said early Friday. "If he had it on, the other people that were with him would have been better able to hold him up or the jacket would have held him up."

Indiana Department of Natural Resources' conservation officers, the Lake County Sheriff's Department's Marine Unit, the Lake County Aquatics Team and police and fire units from Hammond and Whiting assisted in the search and investigation by water, land and air.

An Indiana Conservation Marine Unit using side-scanning sonar directed the Lake County Sheriff's Department's dive team to search the area where Janko's body was recovered at 10:28 p.m.

A Lake County Sheriff's Department Marine boat transported Janko's body to the Hammond Marina, where it was turned over to the Lake County coroner's office investigators.

Rich Marston, spokesman for the City of Blue Island, confirmed Janko served as 5th Ward city councilman since 2000.

"Blue Island has lost a brother due to a tragic accident," a statement issued by the city Friday said. "Michael's hard work, hearty laugh, motivation and dedication to this city will be sorely missed."

Janko's wife, Kim, and daughters Emma and Casey were vacationing in Colorado when they learned he went missing, Marston said. They were on their way home Friday.

Janko served as chairman of the city's Municipal Services Committee, which had oversight of the city's Public Works Department.

Janko was employed as coordinator of quality systems for Best-Tronics in Tinley Park.

Janko was a lifelong resident of Blue Island, attending public schools there and graduating from  Eisenhower High School in 1981. He was also a graduate of Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills, according to the Blue Island news release.

He was an active member of St. Walter Church in Blue Island, Marston said, and served as president of the Mother McAuley Father's Club. His daughter, Emma, is a student at Mother McAuley and his daughter Casey is a recent graduate, according to a spokeswoman for the school.

Flags are flying at half staff on all city buildings in remembrance of Janko, Marston said.

Services are pending.

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