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Search for possible drowning victim

Divers return from searching for a possible drowning victim near the Michigan City lighthouse Tuesday.

CHIKAMING TOWNSHIP — The 17-year-old last seen swimming in Lake Michigan was found by a beach-goer Thursday, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources said.

The body of Rahem Mason, of South Bend, was found in Chikaming Township in southern Michigan about 18 miles away from where he was last seen near Washington Park in Michigan City, Indiana DNR Conservation Officer Tyler Brock said.

At 12:40 p.m. Thursday, a beach-goer found Mason's body along a private beach near Victor Road, Brock said.

Shortly after, the Chikaming Township Police Department in Berrien County, Michigan, contacted Indiana conservation officers, saying the body matched Mason's description. Indiana Conservation Officers went to the beach and identified the teen.

Mason was last seen going under the water Saturday evening, but he never resurfaced. Witnesses said Mason appeared to have drowned in the lake at 7:07 p.m. Saturday, when swimming was prohibited due to high waves and rip currents, according to the DNR.

Following the teen's disappearance, Michigan City firefighters, a U.S. Coast Guard boat and helicopter visually scanned the lake for Mason.

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In the following days, the Michigan City Fire Department, the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, the Michigan City Police Department and the LaPorte County sheriff's police searched the area where the teen was last seen with divers and boats equipped with sonar.

Mason would have been a junior this fall at South Bend Washington High School, where he played on the football team.

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Berrien County Medical Examiner’s Office will determine the official cause of death but it is believed to be an accidental drowning, Brock said. 

The Chikaming Township Police Department, Chikaming Township Fire Department, Berrien County Sheriff’s Office and Berrien County Medical Examiner’s Office assisted in Mason's recovery.

No further information is available at this time, Brock said.

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Night Crime/Breaking News Reporter

Anna Ortiz is the breaking news/crime reporter for The Times, covering crime, politics, courts, investigative news and more. She is a Region native and graduate of Ball State University with a major in journalism and minor in anthropology.