Port Washington Lake Michigan search, no 'child on log' found

Port Washington police said Wednesday, Aug. 31 the case of a kid reportedly seen floating on a log in Lake Michigan the previous day was closed. The search was called off Tuesday night. 

Those involved said this was not a waste of resources. Police said they don't believe it was a phony call of a child floating on a log off shore at South Beach Park Tuesday, but likely someone who saw something and thought it was a problem, calling in resources from near and as far away as Sheboygan and Milwaukee to help look until they could be certain no one was in danger.

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The water off South Beach Park was a hive of activity Tuesday.

"I was just out there, and I saw a lot of divers going in and out," said Shane Stimac. "They’ve been definitely shuttling divers in and out."

The search was called off at 8 p.m. Tuesday with no sign of a kid or reports of one that was missing. Port Washington police closed the investigation.

"We did track down a witness who said they were there and that they did see some kids on logs but that they also saw them exit the water with their family," said Captain Craig Czarnecki.

The search included help from the Sheboygan and Milwaukee Coast Guard stations, Ozaukee County sheriff, emergency management officials and Sheboygan and Port Washington fire departments.

To put the search into context, for numbers that are available, the USCG had 2,672 search and rescue cases in 2020 in the Great Lakes Region. That includes the five Great Lakes, surrounding states, the St. Lawrence Seaway and thousands of miles of shoreline and the Canadian border, saving 694 lives and helping 4,053 people.

"We have had incidents in the past where we had drownings and water rescues," said Czarnecki. "This year’s been pretty good, knock on wood."

While there was a lot of searching Tuesday and no rescue, Czarnecki said the large response isn't anything to Monday morning quarterback about.

"I think our department’s response is typical of any department’s response," said Czarnecki. "Everybody’s going to react the same way to try to rule out, by all reasonable means, that there isn’t anybody in danger."

Officials said Wednesday it's hard to put a dollar amount on a search operation like this so soon after it ended. These types of operations are budgeted for as a part of doing business, and first responders are ready to save lives when called upon.