Coast Guard suspends search for man overboard from freighter in Lake Michigan

MASON COUNTY — After crews from its Manistee Station conducted several searches Sunday, the United States Coast Guard has suspended search efforts for a man who reportedly jumped overboard from a freighter near Mason County’s Big Sable Point in Lake Michigan early Sunday morning.

The man’s name has not been released.

Just before 2 a.m., watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan received a report from the motor vessel Stewart J. Cort, a 989-foot, U.S.-flagged freighter owned by the Interlake Steamship Company, that they had a man overboard approximately 3 to 4 miles offshore of Big Sable Point.

“As soon as we got that call, we launched a small boat from Station Manistee, a 45-foot vessel, as well as a helicopter from Air (Facility) Muskegon,” Public Affairs Officer of Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan Tom Morrell told the News Advocate Sunday evening. “We conducted multiple searches throughout the night and morning.”

Crew members said they witnessed the man climb over the rail and jump from the vessel. The crew members immediately deployed three life rings and notified the navigation bridge. The vessel turned and began a systematic search for the man.

Due to conditions at the time and the impending weather forecast, the decision was made not to deploy the vessel’s small workboat. The motor vessels Samuel D. Champlain, Joyce L. Van Encevort and Vikingbank were also in the area also began to assist with the search.

Coast Guard Station Manistee was joined by crews from Air Facility Muskegon and Air Station Traverse City aboard Dolphin helicopters. The Coast Guard completed a total of 11 different searches covering 76 square nautical miles. Additionally, multiple commercial vessels in the area participated in the search efforts.

“The person never surfaced, so the Coast Guard decided to suspend the search for this person,” Morrell said, citing the decision was made early Sunday afternoon. “Local officials or another agency may want to continue the search, but from the Coast Guard point of view we have suspended the search at this time.”

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