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Man drowns at Michigan's Silver Lake Sand Dunes

  • Article by: JOY POWELL
  • Star Tribune
  • September 7, 2012 - 10:18 PM

A Woodbury man died this week in Michigan, two days after being pulled from 13 feet of water at Silver Lake Sand Dunes where the big, ever-shifting dunes draw more than 1 million visitors a year.

Vikrant Kole, a 3M employee on vacation, ran up the side of a tall dune with three co-workers and down the other side into water over his head on Sunday evening, said Oceana County, Mich., Sheriff Bob Farber.

"He went down the dune, into Silver Lake, and he never came up," Farber said.

Kole had a pulse when pulled from the water 35 minutes after going under, but he died Tuesday, the sheriff said.

Farber said that Kole was in a bayou area with plenty of water but that he wasn't a strong swimmer.

From the top of the dune where Kole and friends were, Silver Lake could be seen on one side and Lake Michigan on the other. Officials warn that safety is always an issue for hikers, swimmers and off-road riding there. "The dunes are constantly changing; a rolling hill that you drove over in the morning could be a steep cliff with a dramatic dropoff by afternoon," said a website for the area.

When the friends ran down to the water, one swam out seven to 10 feet ahead of Kole. The friend heard Kole yelling his name and at first thought he was joking, the sheriff said.

"He went after Mr. Kole and tried to push him up out of the water, but [Kole] went back down under and then he did not see him after that," Farber said.

The sheriff's office responded at 6:46 p.m. Sunday. Divers found Kole at 7:21 p.m. in about 13 feet of water. He was taken to a hospital near the lake, then flown by helicopter to Spectrum Hospital in Grand Rapids, where he died Tuesday.

Kole's body was being flown to Mumbai, India -- his homeland, Farber said.

Several years ago, another person who could not swim drowned in the same location, the sheriff said Friday.

Joy Powell • 651-925-5038

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