Local

Search for missing rafter now a recovery mission

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The search for a missing rafter who disappeared Monday afternoon in Lake Michigan near Beverly Shores, Indiana, has turned into a recovery mission.

Officials say 31-year-old Leonel Dominguez, a New York resident, was in an inflatable raft with a female friend around 3 p.m. Monday when high winds flipped over the raft sending the two into the water.

The Coast Guard has suspended its role in the search. The Indiana Department of Natural Resources suspended its recovery effort around 1 p.m. Tuesday afternoon when those in charge determined that the potential search area had become too large.

A Marine from the southwest suburbs was on the beach when the raft flipped. He jumped in to help and was able to pull a woman to safety.

A spokesperson for the Department of Natural Resources says the two friends were pulled far from the shore, and at one point they decided to both take turns getting into the water to swim and push the boat, but they became exhausted.

That is when they caught the attention of 22-year-old Marine 2nd Lieutenant Nick Dominguez, who was spending the day at Indiana Dunes with his family.

Nick Dominguez said he went into the water and was able to rescue Leonel Dominguez's companion, but when he went back in, Leonel had already gone under.

"I'm grateful I was there...I was put there at the right time," said Nick Dominguez. "I had the ability to help her. I'm just upset, obviously, that we're still missing Leo."

The effort to recover Leonel Dominguez's body will resume Wednesday morning.

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