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Search suspended at nightfall for teen swept off Pier

Eliza Trainer, 16, was visiting Holland State Park with a friend
Posted at 3:21 PM, Jan 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-02 20:08:43-05

Rescue crews have suspended the search for missing Eliza Trainer at Holland State Park near the pier. The 16-year-old girl remains missing in the waters of Lake Michigan after she and a friend were swept off the pier late Wednesday night. At first light, crews will assess water and weather conditions in an attempt to resume recovery efforts.

The Ottawa County Sheriff's Office says that Trainer had come to the state park with an 18-year-old male friend to see Lake Michigan for their first time.

Around 11:30 p.m., according to the sheriff's office, the pair was swept off the pier and into the frigid lake waters. The man was able to get himself out and call for help. Search and rescue crews were quick to respond to the scene to try and locate the girl.

Weather conditions have been too severe for the rescue crews to use most of their usual tactics. Once the sun set, there was no way for crews to find Trainer's body in the tumultuous current.

Sgt Jay Douglas with the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office, said Thursday morning, “We’ve conducted a search along the shoreline in the rocks as best we could. The helicopter came from traverse city, they searched for 3 or 4 hours."

Police are continuously monitoring conditions so they can launch efforts from the water as soon as weather and daylight permits.

“The weather is obviously a factor at this point and it’s precluding us from being able to get a boat out there or put divers in the water at this time,” said Douglas.

Josh Visser has been surfing the waters of Lake Michigan for the past 8 years. He told FOX 17 on Thursday that the pier at Holland State Park can be deceivingly dangerous.

“It's not quite as big and clean as it used to be... the pier is covered with algae too so it's super slick,” Visser said.

Douglas says crews will continue to use a sight-seeing sonar robot in the morning if water conditions have improved.

"Lake Michigan is not a joke, it’s dangerous. These conditions are not conducive for being out on the pier," he said.