Search And Rescue, Boaters Weigh In On Lake Madison Drowning

The victim is a 22-year-old man whose identity hasn't been released

The Fourth of July holiday is a busy time for Lake Madison.

The water was filled with boaters and jet skiers.

But on Sunday night, there was a different feel to it.

“At approximately 6:02 p.m., we got a page and a text message that said there was a drowning at Walker’s Point,” says Lake County Search and Rescue Member Mike Johnson.

A team of divers were dispatched to search for a victim.

It was no easy task, even in just several feet of water.

“It’s a hand search because when you get down even at the 6, 7 feet where the individual was found, it is still awfully murky,” explains Johnson.

Johnson says the South Dakota Game Fish and Parks equipment was a huge help.

“They have a sonar that can pick up structures and individuals that are on the bottom [of the lake],” says Johnson. “That gives us a better idea because when they locate, they’ll put a buoy down so that we’re more specific on where we dive, where we use our time.”

Johnson says it took two hours to find the body.

The victim is a 22-year-old man whose identity hasn’t been released.

Area boaters were shocked to learn of the holiday tragedy.

At this point, there are still more questions than answers.

“Where were his friends, that kind of thing,” says Lakyn Muilenburg of Sioux Falls. “Not knowing the whole story was kind of concerning, like could someone have done something sooner or was it something that could have been avoided?”

Investigators have released some information about what led up to the drowning.

They say the victim dove into the lake to “cool off” and went under the water but didn’t come back up.

Officials say the young man wasn’t wearing a life jacket and believe he may not have been a strong swimmer, which are details that have captured the attention of many.

“I’ve been wearing my life jacket now in my kayak ever since because I haven’t been wearing it, so I just started,” says Zane Jira of Hartford. “I’m going to stick to wearing it especially with the waves like this, and having my kayak tip over so easily.”

The Lake County Sheriff is investigating this death.

It’s still unclear if factors like alcohol played a role in this drowning.

The Sheriff says he will likely release the name of the victim Tuesday.