Authorities searching for man at beach

2012-07-22T19:09:00Z 2012-07-23T09:44:05Z Authorities searching for man at beachBy Lindsay Machak lindsay.machak@nwi.com, (219) 933-3246 nwitimes.com

PORTAGE | After hours of searching a relatively calm Lake Michigan for a missing Illinois man, officials called off the search for the night.

Juan Tovar, 18, of Aurora, was last seen about 1 p.m. when he told his friends he was going for a walk, National Park Service Chief Ranger Mike Bremer said.

His friends reported him missing around 4 p.m. to a lifeguard and a water search was immediately initiated.

Emergency rescue water vehicles searched Lake Michigan between West Beach in Portage and Wells Street Beach in Miller.

By 7:10 p.m., officials said they believed he was not in the water, Bremer said. Authorities were scaling back the water search and focusing on the land in the area, Bremer said.

"We don't have any information to believe he's in the water at this point," he said. "He was last seeing coming out of the water."

Police sent out a signal to his cellphone and found it inside his car, which was parked in the beach's parking area.

Helicopters from the U.S. Coast Guard and the Lake County Sheriff's Department circled throughout the area searching the water around 7 p.m. the Lake County Sheriff's Department helicopter began searching over the land.

The Porter Fire Department, Burns Harbor Dive Team, Chesterton Fire Department, Gary Police Department, Department of Natural Resources, Ogden Dunes Police and Conservation officers were also on the scene and wrapped up around 7:45 p.m.

Officials are asking if anyone has contact with him to call (800) 727-5847.

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