Man dies after entering Lake St. Clair off coast of park

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published May 12, 2014

Story updated May 13

St. Clair Shores Police are investigating the death of a man found off the coast of Veterans Memorial Park the evening of May 10.

According to U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Zach Ogden, the agency received a call around 8 p.m. May 10 from a man on land saying that he saw someone go into Lake St. Clair off the coast of Veterans Memorial Park, on Jefferson Avenue at Masonic Boulevard, and not return.

“He was concerned about the individual,” Ogden said. “Just noticed it (and) was being a good Samaritan.”
St. Clair Shores Police Detective Brad Benac said the witnesses were fishing off the rocks in the park and saw the man wander about 35-40 yards out into the water south of the park.

“He was alone at the house and the witnesses … saw him walking out and it kind of looked like he was looking for something in the water,” Benac said. “Then the fisherman had looked away for some reason, looked back up and he was gone.”

Ogden and three other crew members came to investigate and couldn’t see anyone above the water line.

“At that point, it became a rescue mission,” he said. “About 10 minutes later, one of my crew members discovered the individual under water.”

Coast Guard officers pulled the man onto the boat, but he was unconscious. They began rescue breathing as they headed back to the station at Nine Mile Road and Jefferson Avenue, where St. Clair Shores EMS were waiting.

The man was pronounced dead shortly thereafter. Ogden said he had been underwater for more than a half-hour.
Benac identified the victim as a 47-year-old St. Clair He said they won’t know the exact cause of death until the medical examiner’s toxicology report is returned in about six weeks, but it appears to be an accidental or self-inflicted death.

The area where the man wandered into the lake was not very deep — only about a few feet — and the body did not show any signs of injury or trauma, Ogden said, but, “the water temperature definitely could have been a factor in whatever happened. It still is very cold.”

He said a St. Clair Shores Police detective and a representative from the medical examiner’s office were on the scene when they arrived on shore and are investigating the death.

“It’s a good thing that the good Samaritan gave us a call,” Ogden said. “A lot of people see things that don’t look right and don’t tell anybody.

“Even though we weren’t able to get him alive, we were able to get him quickly.”

Ogden said anyone noticing anything unusual or suspicious in the water should call the U.S. Coast Guard directly at (586) 778-3320.