GARFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Crews resumed their search at an inland lake northwest of Newaygo Monday after a woman went under the water and never reappeared, according to the Newaygo County Sheriff’s Office.
However, the sheriff had to suspend search efforts as storms moved into the area early Monday afternoon, and divers were pulled from the lake. Divers returned to the waters around 2:45 p.m.
Before the storms moved in to the area, searchers were using sonar to search the lake because it is very murky and they’re not sure exactly where the victim was last seen.
The effort wrapped up for the evening not long before 10 p.m. after several hours of combing the area Sunday night on the east side of Kimball Lake.
Witnesses who were flagged down told 24 Hour News 8 the woman had gone out on the water on a pontoon boat with a group of people that included both children and adults. She was swimming when she took off her life jacket and let go of it.
Newaygo County Sheriff Mike Mercer said a man on the pontoon went after the woman and tried to give her a life jacket, but she disappeared under the water’s surface.
Marlaina Farmer, 9, was watching and listening from her aunt’s dock.
“All I heard was kids screaming, ‘Mom,’” she said.
Fellow boaters dove into the water, trying to find the woman, but it was too deep and dark and they could not see her. Someone then called 911.
The call came in around 4:10 p.m., according to Newaygo County 911 Central Dispatch.
“They were calling a dive team, so then I knew it was a bad situation,” witness Bonnie Pezzato said.
A search perimeter was set up in the lake near S. Gordon Avenue. At least three sheriff’s boats, Fremont police and a dive team were involved in the effort. It was hindered because it took some time to get the largest sheriff’s department boat, which is equipped with sonar, to the lake and in the water.
The area of the lake where the woman went missing is about 50 feet deep, neighbors said. They said it’s the deepest part of the lake.
“It’s a real sad day,” Pezzato said.
The woman is from Grand Rapids, the sheriff’s office said, and was renting a cottage in the area with her family. She is newly engaged.
The fiance of the missing woman tells 24 Hour News 8 his brother tried to save the victim by trying to help her with a life jacket. The fiance wasn’t on boat at the time. He said he wants to thank residents of Kimball Lake for the outpouring of support while the search continues.
Loved ones of the victim have identified her as 35-year-old Brandi Humphrey.