CHESTERTON — The man who drowned offshore at the Indiana Dunes State Park Saturday has been identified as 32-year-old Brandon Howard, of Constantine, Michigan, according to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
Howard was seen slipping under the surface of Lake Michigan about 5:50 p.m. and his body was recovered at 8 p.m. in 10 feet of water, according to the DNR.
The suspected cause of death is asphyxiation due to accidental drowning, the DNR said. The results of toxicology tests are pending, and foul play is not suspected.
A lifeguard spotted Howard struggling in the water north of the beach pavilion at the edge of the swim line, DNR Conservation Officer Tyler Brock said.
As the lifeguard was on the way to Howard, he slipped under the water and didn't resurface.
A search was immediately conducted and dive teams were called to the scene. The U.S. Coast Guard searched the area with a helicopter to locate Howard, Brock said.
Brock said swimming conditions at the state park were not dangerous Saturday, and it is unknown at this time why Howard was struggling in the water.
Indiana Conservation Officers will work with the Porter County Coroner’s Office to determine the cause of death, Brock said.
For 2019, Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project officials report that Lake Michigan accounts for almost half of all drownings recorded at the five Great Lakes.
Last year, 43 drownings occurred at Lake Michigan, with 117 overall for the Great Lakes. Six of the 43 incidents took place at beaches in Northwest Indiana.