MICHIGAN CITY — The search is on for a missing South Bend teen who authorities say was swept away in Lake Michigan.
It happened Saturday evening shortly after 7 p.m. at Washington Park Beach in Michigan City.
17-year-old Rahem Mason’s mother says she hasn’t given up hope. She says she still has faith in God but also realizes the chances of him coming out alive are slim to none.
High waves made it impossible for crews to actually be out on the water today.
Authorities say he was swimming in Lake Michigan just off Washington Park Beach on Saturday evening. Witnesses tell police a strong wave took Rahem underwater, and he hasn’t been seen since.
“Out of nowhere, suddenly they felt that current pulling them backward,” said Tyler Brock, DNR Law Enforcement. “They were able to make it to shore, but he was not.”
Local and federal authorities searched the water by boat and land.
U.S. Coast Guard helicopters were out Sunday morning searching from above but came up empty-handed.
“I want my son,” said Yolanda Mason, Rahem’s mother. “I want my son and I want some answers.”
Rahem’s mother says she’s devastated by her son’s disappearance but also angry at what she says is a lack of action.
The DNR says Rahem went under after normal swimming hours and says the water had been closed for most of the day due to dangerous waves.
The water was also closed today with signs telling people to stay out of the water — but some seemed not to care.
“Nobody is paying them signs no attention, even when you see the big old circle with the body in the sand…you still see people over there.”
We saw people letting their children play in the water and some people even windsurfing, even with large signs telling them to stay out.
We asked, “Are they putting their lives at risk by doing that?”
“Yeah, not only their’s (sic), you know, also the first responders that have to go out there to try and find them,” said Brock.
The DNR and Coast Guard suspended searches on the water due to the rough conditions, but they’re still conducting beach patrols.
Rahem’s mother is still holding out hope, saying she just wants her son:
“I want them to find my child and give me some answers.”
The coast guard tells us they’ve responded to 65 incidents on Lake Michigan since the Fourth of July.
DNR officials say once the waves calm, they will be able to continue their searches, including the use of sonar technology to hopefully find Rahem.
The following release was issued Sunday by the DNR:
Indiana Conservation Officers are investigating the disappearance of 17 year old South Bend resident Rahem Mason in Lake Michigan.
At approximately 7:07 p.m. Saturday evening, Indiana Conservation Officers Central Dispatch Center received a report of a possible drowning in Lake Michigan in the area of Washington Park. Witnesses observed Rahem go under the surface and did not see him above surface again.
Within minutes, Michigan City Firefighters arrived on scene and began to manually search the water. High waves and currents prevented a search by scuba divers. A United States Coast Guard vessel immediately responded and searched the area by boat. Additionally a United States Coast Guard helicopter conducted a search by air.
Initial search efforts were unsuccessful and have resumed this morning. The incident occurred after normal swimming hours and the water had been closed throughout the day due to dangerous waves and currents. Any questions regarding Washington Park’s rules and regulations should be referred to the Michigan City Police Department.
Assisting agencies included: Michigan City Police Department, Michigan City Fire Department, Michigan City Police Chaplains, Long Beach Police Department, United States Coast Guard, LaPorte County EMS, LaPorte County Dispatch Center and The Red Cross.