UPDATE: Search for Missing Teen to Be Suspended "Indefinitely"
Tyler Buczek, a 15-year-old Port Washington boy, went missing in Lake Michigan mid-afternoon on Sunday. After searching all day Monday, authorities said they are ending the active search for the teen.
Updated at 7 p.m. to include details on search being suspended.
Law enforcement officers resumed the search Monday morning for a 15-year-old Port Washington boy who went missing in Lake Michigan on Sunday.
However, at an evening press conference, authorities said they were suspending the search "indefinitely" as of 8:30 p.m. Monday. And by 6:30 p.m., most divers and boats involved in the search for Port Washington High School freshman Tyler Buczek had exited the water.
Eighteen divers spent most of Monday searching for the youth, a quarterback for the school's freshman football team. However, after spending much of the day fighting visibility problems because of algae in the lake and because of looming bad weather, the search is being suspended and will not resume Tuesday.
"Honestly, these divers are just exhausted," said Port Washington Fire Chief Mark Mitchell.
On Tuesday, police officers will continue to patrol the shoreline for any signs of the teen, but the lake search will not continue.
"(Finding him) is like a needle in a haystack — we get lucky, and we find (him)," Mitchell said. "The family is very well known (in Port). It's tough ... I can't imagine what they're going through — as a parent ... it was a tough night last night."
Waves were between two and four feet high on Sunday afternoon, according to Wunderground.com. Mitchell said he has been told there was a rip current warning on Sunday, but he did not officially confirm that with a weather source.
Buczek had been swimming off North Beach with a group of friends when the current took him. He went missing at 2:39 p.m., according to Ozaukee dispatchers. The search was taking place just east of the Filtration Plant, according to a press release, and last until 8 p.m. Sunday.
The search continues
Mitchell said search conditions on Sunday were pretty bad; 4-foot waves limited attempts to use sonar equipment on the boats to search the lake floor. The Coast Guard helicopter joined the search at about 3 p.m. Sunday and continued with efforts throughout the night.
On Monday, a helicopter was first to resume searching the scene at 4:15 a.m. Several rescue boats went on the water about 7 a.m., Mitchell said. With conditions a little bit better than Sunday, divers were able to go in the water.
Officials on the boats sonar equipment to detect areas where Buczek could be and marking those areas with a buoy; as of 2:30 p.m., Mitchell said the dive team had responded to about 20 "false alarms," such as large rocks or debris.
They also struggled with visibility issues as lake waters continue to churn.
"Visibility is horrible," Mitchell said. "What they're experiencing now is all this algae that is being (shaken up from) wave activity."
Shore groups were walking along the breakwall, checking in crevices of the rocks and other parts of the shoreline.
They are limiting their search to the south end of North Beach and down the breakwall, Mitchell said. While there is always a chance that the boy has floated away from this area, he said this is the most likely spot to find him.
"History has shown in Port Washington that our drowning victims that aren't found immediately end up in this area," he said.
Between 60 and 75 law enforcement officials from numerous agencies have helped in the recovery efforts.
The Coast Guard, Milwaukee Fire Department, Ozaukee County Water Safety Patrol, Department of Natural Resources, a Great Lakes K9 unit and the Mequon, Cedarburg, Theinsville and Port Washington Departments have been assisting in the search efforts.
North Beach remains closed throughout the search.
Community responds to tragedy
A small crowd has gathered along the lakeshore near New Port Shores as well as in Upper Lake Park all day long to watch the search. Randy Schmit, a family friend, was in Upper Lake Park on Monday morning. He said he had heard about the incident from friends on the lake Sunday.
"It's a shame," Schmit said, adding that he had heard Buczek was not a strong swimmer. His friend who messaged him about the incident had been out on the lake using jet skis, and described the conditions as "choppy."
A candlelight vigil is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Monday at Upper Lake Park, according to a resident who called Patch. Persons should bring their own candle.
A Facebook group asks Port High students to wear blue on Tuesday in Buczek's honor. It would have been his first day of High School.
Counselors and psychologists were available at Port Washington High School on from 1 to 3 p.m. Monday, school staff said. Though Tuesday is a freshmen-only orientation school day, counselors will still be available for any Port High student from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. in the school's library.
A boat parade set to start at 7 p.m. Sunday was canceled because of the search, Laurence said.