CUDAHY — Authorities are working to identify a body that washed up on a Lake Michigan beach in Cudahy Sunday afternoon. The identity is unclear, but it comes nearly one week after a 19-year-old swimmer disappeared in the water.
The Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office said it got a 911 call around 4 p.m. to respond to Warnimont Park after bikers spotted a body below the bluff on the beach.
South Milwaukee fire crews took out its boat to recover the body before transferring it over to the Medical Examiner at the yacht club.
The identity remains unknown, but those in the area hope its 19-year-old Aaron Polnitz of Brookfield who went missing in the water last Monday.
“Definitely praying for them and praying that at least maybe they’ll have some closure,” South Milwaukee resident, Jenny Trissel said.
Officials believe Polnitz hiked down several feet to get to the lake, but they say he didn’t get hurt on the bluff and instead struggled in the water. His friends tried to help him, but were unsuccessful along with crews that conducted a large search effort in the area.
.@SoMilwFireDept recovered the body with its boat & transferred it over to @mkemedexamine at South Milwaukee Yacht Club in an unmarked vehicle. Scene cleared moments ago. @MCSOSheriff is heading the investigation. No word on if it’s Aaron Polnitz who went missing last week @tmj4 pic.twitter.com/QSgmFoq7e7— Lauren Linder (@lauren_linder) August 12, 2019
Cudahy Fire Chief Dan Mayer says lake conditions are always unpredictable but this year they’re even worse with some of the highest levels in a long time.
“The currents can get to them and drag them under, and it’s always a possibility of hitting a drop-off where it’s shallow one minute and not shallow the next minute,” Mayer told TODAY'S TMJ4 on last Tuesday.
In fact, according to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, Lake Michigan drownings are up 53 percent from last year at this time. So far there have been 29 compared to 19 in 2018.
South Milwaukee resident, Kate Tregellas recognizes the dangers, which is why she doesn’t let her kids or even herself go more than knee deep in the lake.
“It is scary because these waves can get pretty hard and then like you have little divots,” Tregellas said.
She hopes others take the same precautions.
“You never know. It takes a split second,” Tregellas said.
If you’re going to swim in the lake make sure to keep an eye on water conditions and let someone know where you’re going.
An autopsy will be conducted on the recovered body in the coming days.