UNION PIER — The body of a missing South Bend teen, who disappeared while swimming in Michigan City on Saturday, was recovered after nearly washing ashore Thursday in Chikaming Township.
Indiana conservation officers were contacted Thursday afternoon by the Chikaming Township Police Department and informed that a body matching the young man’s description was found about 12:40 p.m. about 10 feet from the shoreline.
Indiana DNR officers responded to the scene and positively identified the body as that of 17-year-old Rahem Mason.
Chikaming Township Police Chief Todd Taylor said in the statement that he was called to the beach near Victor Avenue concerning a “recovery.” He met on the beach with Dep. Andrea Crosby of the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department’s New Buffalo Township patrol.
An autopsy will be performed today at the Western Michigan University School of Medicine, according to police.
Mason was last seen in Lake Michigan near Washington Park on Saturday evening, when witnesses said they saw him go under the water but never resurface, just after 7 p.m.
The official cause of death will be determined by the autopsy, but it is believed to be an accidental drowning, according to Indiana DNR officer Tyler Brock.
Mason had been swimming after the lifeguards were off duty, Brock said. The beach had been closed to swimmers because of waves of up to 5 feet, with strong rip currents in the area because of strong northwest winds.
“The incident occurred after normal swimming hours and the water had been closed to swimming throughout the day due to dangerous waves and currents,” Brock said.
Authorities from IDNR, the U.S. Coast Guard, Michigan City Fire Department, Michigan City Police Department and La Porte County Sheriff’s Department had searched for Mason’s body since Saturday, though those efforts were hampered by the rough lake conditions on Sunday and Monday.
Assisting in the recovery were the Chikaming Township Police Department, Chikaming Township Fire Department, Berrien County Sheriff’s Department, and the Berrien County Medical Examiner’s office.