WIND LAKE — Divers spent about four hours this evening searching Wind Lake for a missing West Allis man but they did not find him.
The search will resume Sunday at daybreak as a body recovery effort instead of a search and rescue effort, according to Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling.
The man, 57, was on a pontoon boat with friends and family this afternoon when he disappeared, Schmaling said.
“He jumped in and was swimming for a bit,” he said. “Then, for unknown reasons, he went under.”
A family member jumped in to help but was unsuccessful. Someone on the boat called 911 at approximately 4:30 p.m. and rescue personnel arrived about 15 minutes later, Schmaling said.
Racine County Dive Team members searched for the man in the center of Wind Lake until 9 p.m. when it got too dark, Schmaling said. Their efforts in the 25- to 40-foot deep water were complicated by windy conditions and underwater visibility of only about 4 feet, said Rob Robins, Wind Lake Fire Department chief and Racine County Water Rescue director.
“The divers are having a tough time holding a pattern,” Robins said.
A patrol helicopter helped narrow the search area by dropping buoys near the spot where the 911 call was made, Robins said.
A search staging area was set up at a Department of Natural Resources boat launch, which was crowded with numerous ambulances and more than 45 rescue personnel this evening. The launch, on the west side of Wind Lake along South Wind Lake Road, will be closed to the public Sunday, Schmaling said.
During the evening search, the man’s family was in a nearby home sitting with a chaplain and getting updates from rescue personnel, Robins said.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to them,” Schmaling said. “It’s one thing to have the phone ring in the middle of the night for a tragedy. It’s another thing to be part of it.”
The man, whose name is not yet being released, was “not a stranger to the lake” or to swimming, and there is nothing to suggest alcohol was a factor, Schmaling said.
Divers will search “as long as it takes” to find the man’s body, he added.