NEW BUFFALO TOWNSHIP, Mich. - The Berrien County Marine Patrol boat capsized in rough waters on Lake Michigan just before noon Monday, injuring both officers on board.They were out searching for the body of 18-year-old Mitchell Fajman. Fajman disappeared when his kayak flipped over in rough surf on Saturday.
Berrien County’s brand new 25-foot Sea Arc, just delivered a week ago, Monday sits on its side on a sandbar in Lake Michigan. It's just the latest damage waves, have caused over the past three days.
"It’s dangerous," says New Buffalo resident Mary Laurisella. She watched it all unfold from the front seat of her SUV. Laurisella watches the waves at New Buffalo Public Beach every day. "Stay away from the lake," she says. "Stay off the rocks. Stay away from the water."
Police can’t stay away. It's day two in their attempts to recover, 18-year-old Mitchell Fajman's body. Fajman is the kayaker who lost his life Saturday to the same lake that flipped the police boat looking for him Monday.
"It's really hard because now it's one of our own," says Larry Pitchford, New Buffalo Police Chief. "Our prayers are with Kurtz and the rest of the crew as well as the family we lost."
One of the officers injured was Martin Kurtz, Commander of the county's marine unit. He and the other officer were taken to the hospital for symptoms of hypothermia. The two were released late Monday afternoon.
"They just got caught in a rogue wave and it flipped them over," says Pitchford. He says it's an example of how strong Lake Michigan is. "They train, train (and) train," he says. "But as you can see... even with the best training and continually doing it, accidents can happen."
Laurisella says even if there is a job to do it's just too dangerous to be out there. "I would want them to keep their lives," she says. "We've already lost one."
New Buffalo Police will keep combing the beach on ATVs incase anything washes onto the shore. The recovery on the water is suspended.