Tragic deaths in the late summer from high waves at Holland State Park
The sun was just beginning its beautiful downfall into the horizon when 17-year-old Christopher Mimis, 14-year-old Vincent Green and two other teens ages 19 and 17 were swimming at Holland State Park. The water was bearable on account of the blazing summer rays that have warmed Lake Michigan’s shores. But that night was different on account of red flags flying at the beach to warn of high waves and strong currents. Despite this information, the boys decided to swim out into the merciless waters.
According to Capt. John Wolffis at Ottawa County Sheriff Department, the boys were just at the edge of the swim area near the north pier when they got pulled in by rip currents. The two other boys made it out of the water by climbing onto rocks. Christopher Mimis, 17 and Vincent Green, 14, fought for their lives in the treacherous currents before going under and never resurfacing. It was around 8:00 p.m. on Aug. 31st, when the boys went under. Mixed stories have arisen about where the boys were swimming. Some witnesses stated that the teens had been jumping off the pier. Some witnesses stated they were swimming beyond the swim area. However, the police investigation debunked these accounts based on the evidence of their search. The Ottawa Police state that the teens were swimming inside the swim area but were at the edge of it when they got pulled into the rip current. One of the victims, Vincent Green, was the brother of the 17-year-old who made it safely to the rocks. Green was starting his freshman year at West Ottawa High School and was going to be playing basketball. Vincent Green’s body was recovered Thursday, Sept. 1st.
The other 17-year-old teen was the father of a 4-month-old baby. Christopher worked two jobs to support his family. He was originally from Chicago. His family made the trip out to Holland from Chicago to help authorities recover his body. Two families lost their sons that night, but we hope that they were not lost in vain.
Let us all familiarize ourselves with the precautions of Great Lakes Beach Safety. To start, the flags are the most obvious upon arrival at the beach. The red flag means STOP – do not go into the water and stay on the beach. A yellow flag means CAUTION – be attentive to dangerous currents and high waves. The green flag means GO – but stay aware of changing conditions.
All Michigan Great Lakes State Park beaches have designated swim areas marked by swim buoys. Monitor the flag system on the beaches throughout the day as wave and current conditions can change rapidly.
And most importantly, if you get caught in a rip current, stay calm. Focus on breathing deeply and floating to keep your head above the water.
Call out for help. Swim to the side (parallel to the shore) out of the current and then back to shore.
Tell everyone you know about rip currents and the real dangers of taking a life. As a Hope community, we can raise awareness and pray that no family ever has to say goodbye like the Mimis and Green family did that night.