SHEBOYGAN -- The bodies of two men missing in Lake Michigan after they were swept into the water by high waves near South Pier in Sheboygan on Sunday were recovered Monday, July 18th.
According to the Sheboygan County Sheriff's Office, on Sunday, a group of five friends from the Green Bay/Sturgeon Bay area were visiting Sheboygan and arrived at South Pier just before 4:00 p.m.
Four of the five young men decided to walk to the end of South Pier to talk with some fishermen they saw at the end of the pier. The fifth friend decided to stay at the start of the pier.
22-year-old Tyler Hacker of Green Bay remained at the start of the pier as 22-year-old Adam Laluzerne, who just moved to Sheboygan from Sturgeon Bay, 21-year-old Kurt Ahonen of Suamico, 22-year-old Dylan Abeyta-Dedecker of Sturgeon Bay and 23-year-old Jeremy Wheat of Sturgeon Bay walked out onto the pier.
Sheriff's officials say after talking with the fishermen, the men began walking back to the start of the pier when a wave hit the pier and went over -- knocking Laluzerne, Ahonen Abeyta-Dedecker into the harbor area on the north side of the pier.
Wheat ran back towards Hacker, and Hacker ran to the emergency call box on the South Pier.
A 911 call came in moments before 4:00 p.m.
The United States Coast Guard Station Sheboygan was contacted and the Sheboygan County Dive Team, MABAS Division 113 Dive Support Team and Sheboygan County Boat Patrol were dispatched to the last known location.
When the Coast Guard arrived, they observed Abeyta-Dedecker in the water.
He was rescued moments after 4:00 p.m.
Ahonen and Laluzerne were not found.
Abeyta-Dedecker was taken to the hospital by ambulance.
The Coast Guard, Sheboygan Sheriff’s Office Boat Patrol and some private boats started searching the area where Ahonen and Laluzerne were last seen.
At 5:11 p.m., the first diver was sent in the water, but due to the hazardous conditions, all dive operations were cancelled at 5:24 p.m.
All boats continued to search the area and a Coast Guard Helicopter also assisted with searching.
At 5:21 p.m. Sunday, the two fishermen that were at the end of the pier were swept into the harbor by waves striking the south pier.
Due to the numerous rescue boats at the scene, both individuals were rescued within a minute. The two fishermen had minor injuries as a result but refused transport to the hospital.
At approximately 9:45 p.m. on Sunday night, the search was suspended.
The search was resumed on Monday at 8:00 a.m.
The search was done with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which had multiple boats at the scene and numerous equipment to perform scans of the water way.
On Monday, the Sheboygan County Dive Team received additional divers from the Calumet County Dive Team and Fond du Lac County Dive Team. The dive teams were supported by the MABAS Division 113 Dive Support Team (made up of volunteer fire-fighters from Plymouth Fire Department (FD), Town of Sheboygan Falls FD, City of Sheboygan Falls FD, Kohler FD, and Cedar Grove FD.)
As the search continued on Monday, the Milwaukee Police Department Boat Patrol was requested and they had a piece of equipment that could provide a better image of what the DNR side-scan sonars were picking up.
With the assistance of Milwaukee Police Department’s equipment and the DNR side scan sonar, the first victim was located at approximately 4:45 p.m.
The victim was identified as Kurt Ahonen.
At approximately 7:00 p.m., Adam Laluzerne was located and removed from the water.
FOX6's sister station, WLUK spoke with Dylan Abeyta-Dedecker Monday -- one of the three men swept into the water Sunday. He told FOX6 News a strong current carried him and two of his former classmates from St. Norbert College away from shore.
"We were in an adventurous sort of mood. We`re in our early 20s, so we thought we would walk out to the end and back. Not long after we started heading back was when a big wave crashed over, big enough to sweep three of us off our feet and send us into the lake," Abeyta-Dedecker said.
"I was trying to get to them but the current was too strong. It was not long after that I was swept away from them and that was the last I saw of my other two friends," Abeyta-Dedecker said.
After swallowing water for more than 30 minutes while trying to stay afloat, Abeyta said a Coast Guard boat passed by and pulled him to safety.
"I could barely swim to try and reach it. I was basically on my last string of hope," Abeyta-Dedecker said.
Abeyta was taken to the hospital and is now recovering at home in Sturgeon Bay. He said he knows he's lucky to be alive -- but said he can't stop thinking about his friends who lost their lives.
"I`m very heartbroken. It`s just terrible," Abeyta-Dedecker said.
The tragedy has taught him a lesson. He hopes it's not too late for others to learn from what happened to him.
"Not to take life for granted. Even though you feel young and adventurous, always be aware of what could possibly happen," Abeyta-Dedecker said.
Some in Sheboygan said there should be signs in place at South Pier -- warning people not to walk out on it if there are large waves.
Others want officials to close the pier when boating advisories are in effect, which was the case on Sunday.
Officials with the U.S. Coast Guard asked Sunday that people stay away from the coast of Lake Michigan.
We're told on Sunday afternoon, Coast Guard officials responded to 10 rescue calls within a two-hour period -- as people were being swept into the water by high waves and high wind.
South Pier was closed to the public Sunday after this incident.