Fisherman Swept Off Michigan Pier Saturday
This was posted on Facebook yesterday by 40 year old Ryan Gerard, owner of the Third Coast Surf Shop, about what happened Saturday.
"Yesterday was a humbling day. I helped rescue a fisherman who was washed off the Frankfort pier in northern Lake Michigan. I watched him die.
Friday evening was big and solid. A strong south swell filled in with light offshore winds, creating peaky surf in the head high + range. The next morning the locals were on it again (the locals rip and are super cool. Thanks for welcoming us, as always) as conditions were still good: long period surf with more offshore wind. A couple hours into the session I was waiting for a set when I noticed a couple guys scrambling around way out on the pier. I saw one grab a life ring off the stand and throw it into the water. It was pretty far away but I could tell something was wrong, so I started paddling out there. It probably took me 7-8 minutes to get out there on my 7’10 - it’s a long, concrete pier - and as I got closer there were three guys on the pier pulling someone in on the life ring. I kept paddling toward them and saw him slip out of the ring just a few feet from the pier, so I got to him and started to drag him toward the guys. One of the guys jumped in to help me lift the man from the bottom as the two guys on the pier pulled him up. Luckily, there are rocks along the pier that we were able to stand on, and we got him up after a minute. He looked bloated, blue, and lifeless. They stared CPR immediately as a first responder had just arrived. I sat on my board 20 yards away in the water and watched. I also paddled around to gather up the clothing he had apparently stripped himself of in the water; a boot, hat, and jacket. I saw some waders but lost them. I’m assuming he was trying to free himself from the heavy gear. The deep water swell was big that far out and the current swirling near the rocks. It was no surprise he struggled to get back to the pier. After about 15 minutes, I threw the clothing to the coast guard boat that had come, and started to paddle in. More personnel arrived and they kept doing cpr the entire time while getting him on a stretcher and hauling him away.
The part I may never forget is, while lifting the man out of the water and onto the pier, the guy helping me lift saying “C’mon, Dad.”