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UPDATE: Man dies after going into waves to help teen in distress, officials say

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Porter Beach rescue

A man who entered Lake Michigan on Monday morning to help a teen swimmer in distress has died, Indiana Department of Natural Resources said.

PORTER — A man who entered Lake Michigan Monday morning to help a teen swimmer in distress died, Indiana Department of Natural Resources said.

Thomas Kenning, 38, of St. Petersburg, Florida, was visiting with family and observed the teen swimmer in distress. He reached the teen and helped her to safety before going underwater and not resurfacing. 

Kenning was transported to Northwest Health Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. 

Porter and Chesterton firefighters were called out to the beach at 10:28 a.m. for swimmers in distress.

"A female teen in the water was in distress and the gentleman went into the water and attempted to rescue her," Porter Fire Chief Jay Craig said. 

"She made it out with the assistance of lifeguards from (Indiana) Dunes State Park, but he got sucked under," Craig said. "Once they got her out they went back looking for the man."

Chesterton Fire Chief Eric Camel estimated the man may have been in the water 15 minutes before the lifeguards found him in the waves approximately 20 to 30 feet from shore, just west of the Indiana Dunes State Park beach.

"The man was brought on shore and CPR immediately begun," officials said.

"The lifeguards were the true miracle workers today," Craig said. "They did the best job they could under difficult conditions. They never gave up. They did a phenomenal job."

At the time of the incident, the Indiana Dunes State Park beach, immediately east of Porter Beach, was closed to swimming because of dangerous conditions, he said. Craig estimated Monday's waves to be 3 to 5 feet.

Porter Beach is an unguarded beach and is considered "swim at your own risk."

Staff Writer Annie Mattea contributed to reporting. 


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Porter/LaPorte County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.

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