Recovery mission continues for body of man lost in lake near Beverly Shores

2012-06-19T16:30:00Z 2012-06-20T08:08:53Z Recovery mission continues for body of man lost in lake near Beverly ShoresBy Jeff Burton jeff.burton@nwi.com, (219) 548-4354 nwitimes.com

BEVERLY SHORES | Efforts to rescue a New York man who went missing Monday in Lake Michigan off Lake View Beach on Tuesday changed to a recovery mission.

While the U.S. Coast Guard suspended its search on water and in the air Tuesday afternoon, Indiana Conservation Officer Terri Arlandson said crews from a number of other agencies continued looking for the body of Leonel Dominguez. The agencies used six different vessels in the water and combed the shore with ATVs.

Dominguez, 31, from the Bronx borough of New York City, went missing about 3 p.m. Monday when his raft capsized a quarter mile offshore, just east of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore's Lake View Beach in Beverly Shores.

Earlier in the day, Dominguez and a companion rowed a small, inflatable boat into the lake from the beach at Beverly Shores. The companion told emergency crews they rowed too far into the lake. Dominguez became fatigued as he tried to swim back to shore pulling the boat.

When he tried to re-enter the boat, it flipped over and blew away. Dominguez and his companion struggled to swim to shore. A man on the beach swam out to help, pulling her to a sandbar. When the good Samaritan returned, he could not find Dominguez.

Officials with the U.S. Coast Guard said neither Dominguez nor his companion were wearing life preservers.

More than 50 emergency personnel searched the lake and beach for Dominguez into Monday night, finding only the raft and a paddle.

Arlandson said at the time of Dominguez's disappearance, there were gusty 30 mph winds and 3-foot-high waves crashing into the shore.

Conditions Tuesday were much calmer, with families basking in the sun and wading in the 62-degree waters as boats scanned the area, searching for Dominguez.

Two of those boats, Arlandson said, were equipped with side-scan sonar, which scans 50 feet out from each side of the boat.

The sonar is able to detect large pieces of debris in the water and bodies. If a possible body is detected, divers would be sent into the water to recover the remains, Arlandson said.

She said the warm weather and warming water could expedite Dominguez's recovery.

"The colder the water gets, usually the longer it takes (for a body to surface)," Arlandson said. "With the warmer temperatures, I'm hopeful we'll have a quicker recovery."

All beaches remained open near the scene of the recovery efforts. Arlandson reminded beachgoers to always use caution when going into the water along the Lake Michigan shore.

Times staff writer Lauri Keagle contributed to this report.

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