Beachgoers battle deadly rip currents by forming human chains

Beachgoers in Michigan formed human chains in an attempt to rescue swimmers.

Michigan beachgoers formed human chains on Sunday in an attempt to rescue swimmers from dangerous rip currents that left two people dead and three others injured, authorities said.

Emergency crews responded to Grand Haven State Park in Grand Haven, Michigan, at around noon on Sunday amid reports of multiple swimmers struggling in the water near the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, according to police.

Officers with the Grand Haven Police Department arrived to find dozens of bystanders linked by their arms, hoping to locate a man who went under water after getting caught in rip currents, police said.

“Officers formed several human chains with assistance from bystanders in search of a swimmer that was reported to have gone under the water,” Grand Haven Public Safety Director Jeff Hawke said in a statement. “Officers located the man in approximately 5 feet of water and then performed CPR. He was transported to NOCH and pronounced dead.”

Police described the victim as a 20-year-old man from Lansing, Michigan. His name was withheld pending family notification, Hawke said.

Police and beachgoers also located a second victim, 64-year-old David Knaffle of Wyoming, Michigan, who died after getting caught in rip currents, according to the statement.

Hawke said the officers, with help from bystanders, managed to rescue at least five people from the water, including three who were taken to local hospitals.

A 46-year-old man from Alto, Michigan, was transported to a local hospital in serious condition, according to police.

Two others –- a 20-year-old male and a 17-year-old female -– were also hospitalized, according to police. They were in stable condition as of late Sunday evening.