GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WOOD) — As a 24 Hour News 8 camera was rolling early Wednesday evening, a man who was kayaking on Lake Michigan was rescued by bystanders and surfers.
24 Hour News 8 photojournalist Bilal Kurdi went to Grand Haven State Park to get video of the large waves caused by stormy weather. As he stood on the breakwater just after 6 p.m., he noticed a struggling kayaker. Camera still rolling, Kurdi and bystanders got a flotation device as a life guard stepped in to help.
In the water, surfers swam to the kayaker and helped him onto one of their boards.
People on the breakwater tossed a life preserver and threw it to the kayaker. He grabbed it and people started to pull him in, but then he let go. Surfers then helped the kayaker back on a board and to water shallow enough that he could walk out.
The kayaker, Adam Medema, was wearing a life jacket.
“I just caught a good surf wave and was riding it in, and another diagonal wave came in from another direction, and took a little beat down, and the force of the wave ripped me out of my boat. So, went for a little swim,” Medema explained to 24 Hour News 8 after he was safe on dry land. “The rip current is really strong today, but that’s why we have people out here helping each other out.”
Storm Team 8 says west-southwest winds created dangerous conditions at piers and breakwaters along the lakeshore Wednesday. Waves near the breakwater appeared to be around 6 feet. The peak gust of wind at the breakwater Wednesday afternoon was 37 mph.
“Sometimes you get humbled by Mother Nature a bit,” Medema said.
Storm Team 8 Chief Meteorologist Bill Steffen says the Grand Haven State Park breakwater is particularly dangerous among Lake Michigan when conditions become rough. Bill says there have been more rescues and fatalities at that breakwater than any other breakwater on the Great Lakes — likely because there are often many people in the water and a prevailing southwest wind can cause dangerous conditions.
There were gale warnings on the lake Wednesday, Storm Team 8 says. The water temperature was around 69 degrees. Waves at Port Sheldon were around 8 feet.