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WHITING — State and county police searched unsuccessfully Saturday for a woman who went missing in Lake Michigan near Whihala Beach Friday night and is presumed dead.

"We really thought we'd find her," Indiana Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Shawn Brown said.

Thalia Rodriguez, 20, of Whiting, was walking on the pier around 10 p.m. Friday at Wihala Beach with a friend after the two went out to eat, Brown said. 

"It was a nice night, really warm out, so they wanted to be outside," he said. "Her friend turned around and she was in the water."

Emergency crews arrived a short time later and could hear Rodriguez, but could not see her, Brown said.

Whether Rodriguez jumped in the water, was pushed by wind gusts or accidentally fell in is not known, he said.

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter searched for Rodriguez for several hours Friday night but was unable to locate her. Crews suspended their search just before 3 a.m. Saturday and came back several hours later to search by air and by boat.

On Saturday, conservation officers and the Lake County Sheriff's Department's marine unit used side-scan sonar in an effort to find Rodriguez's body, but were unsuccessful, Brown said.

Crews will re-evaluate the case with investigators from the Whiting Police Department and determine whether to resume air and water searches Sunday, he said.

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