PORTAGE | For 36 hours Christine Forystek waited for rescuers to bring her son home.
When they found 15-year-old Corey McFry, she was relieved and grateful.
"I don't know where to begin to thank them. I'm really grateful that they stuck it out until they did find him. I hope they all realize how grateful I am they could give me that closure," Forystek said Wednesday.
Corey was playing in the waters of Lake Michigan with friends Sunday afternoon. They were headed back to shore because of the rough waves when he either fell or was swept from a sandbar into water over his head. Waves were estimated at 3 to 5 feet at the time he disappeared.
His body was found Tuesday morning by an early morning beach walker.
Forystek came to Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk site of the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore on Sunday evening to begin the vigil. She stayed until she was told to go home and returned early the next day to watch the agencies look for her son.
"In honesty, I didn't have any hope at all that first night after I saw the water," she said of the rescuers finding her son's body. "I was really shocked on how many agencies they put out there."
Her fiancé, Mark McGregor, added, "They are just like our soldiers only they are on the front lines here."
Portage, Porter, Burns Harbor, Ogden Dunes, Chesterton and South Haven fire departments, as well as the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Coast Guard, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Red Cross, Porter County EMA, Portage Park Department, Lake County Aquatics and police from Indiana, Lake County, Portage, Ogden Dunes and Burns Harbor responded to the scene.
"I want each and everyone of them to know that I deeply appreciate it," said Forystek, adding the community has been supportive during the ordeal.
"Even complete strangers will give me a hug. I knew Corey had a lot of friends, but I learned that he had more than I ever imagined," she said.
Her son was happy, loved to play Xbox, guitar and drums and some day wanted to be in a band, she said.
Corey, who would have started his freshman year at Portage High School next month, had spent the night with friends. A mom of one friend dropped them off at the beach Sunday afternoon. Forystek last spoke to Corey the night before.
"I asked him if he was OK, and he said he was," she said, adding he was supposed to call her in the morning, but, kidlike, he didn't.
Forystek blames no one for Corey's death but hopes others, especially those his age, learn from it.
"Parents have got to be more careful with their kids. They (kids) think they are invincible. You just don't know," she said.
"I hope that they do some kind of awareness so it catches people's attention. Maybe, (with Corey's death), it will hit home with them," she said.