Man missing in water at Whihala Beach

2013-07-18T19:27:00Z 2013-07-19T10:58:05Z Man missing in water at Whihala BeachTimes Staff nwitimes.com
July 18, 2013 7:27 pm  • 

WHITING | Police, rescue crews and a dive team were searching Thursday night for a 50-year-old man missing in Lake Michigan, about 200 yards off shore at Whihala Beach.

Michael Janko, of Blue Island, was identified as the man who went missing in the water, said Stan Gaskey, coordinator of the Lake County Aquatic Recovery and Rescue Unit dive team.

Janko disappeared Thursday afternoon after he jumped off a boat about .25 miles north of Whihala Beach, officials said. He was in a boat with three other men, Gaskey said.

He was not wearing a life jacket, the Ninth Coast Guard said in a news release.

Janko, described as heavy-set and in his 50s, was having a difficult time getting back into the boat. Two of the men jumped in to help him, but he sank below the surface and couldn't be found.

Jeff Smith, Hammond fire chief, said his department was dispatched to the scene about 3:45 p.m. He said firefighters were out on the scene with the Coast Guard for about an hour and a half before officials began recovery efforts rather than rescue efforts.

A Coast Guard boat, helicopter, a Lake County boat and 15 divers remained on the scene Thursday evening as police were interviewing witnesses.

As of 9 p.m., officials were still actively searching for Janko, said Alan Haraf, chief petty officer for the Ninth Coast Guard District. Haraf said officials haven't decided when they would call off the search for the night.

The Whiting Fire Department said the beach had a green flag all day, which meant conditions were fine for swimmers.

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