Two swimmers remain missing in Lake Champlain

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Public safety officials have suspended their search for a swimmer who went missing in Lake Champlain.

Two people — one in Alburgh near Alburgh Dunes State Park and another in South Burlington near Red Rocks Park — went missing in the lake Tuesday. Authorities in both cases had begun rescue operations, but had to stop overnight. Recovery efforts resumed Wednesday, but by the afternoon, Coast Guard crews ended their search for the swimmer near Red Rocks.

“Pending further developments, we have suspended the active search,” said James McLay, Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator of the Coast Guard Sector Northern New England.

Vermont State Police reported that the search for the Alburgh swimmer was ongoing as of 2 p.m. Wednesday. 

During a news conference Wednesday, Vermont Public Safety Commissioner Mike Schirling encouraged outdoor enthusiasts to get outside and enjoy Vermont’s resources, but offered tips for doing so safely.

South Burlington: One swimmer died after rescue, another missing

Recovery operations have ceased for an adult male swimmer who went missing near Red Rocks Park, the Coast Guard said following an 18-hour search. A second adult man, who was rescued Tuesday and brought to the hospital, has died.

The two men were part of a group of six people in a small power boat that was going from Burlington to Shelburne Bay on Tuesday afternoon, South Burlington police said.

Two juveniles that were part of the group were swimming in the bay when the wind and waves increased in intensity. One of the juveniles began having trouble swimming as the other returned to the boat. The struggling juvenile was not wearing a life jacket, police said.

Several adults jumped into the water as the boat began to drift away, police said. One of the adults assisted the juvenile safely to shore.

First responders rescued one of the men, but could not locate the other. The two juveniles who were left in the drifting boat were also rescued by South Burlington firefighters, police said. The search for the missing male swimmer continued until past midnight, but was suspended until Wednesday morning.

Police say the failure to use personal flotation devices and boating inexperience contributed to the tragedy. None of the swimmers were found to be wearing life jackets, according to the Coast Guard. They are asking witnesses to contact Detective Sgt. Gerry Eno at 802-540-4211 or via e-mail at geno@southburlingtonpolice.org.

Alburgh: Swimmer presumed dead

The swimmer who went missing in the lake near Alburgh is presumed dead, Vermont State Police said. He has been identified as Dennis Rabideau, 52, of Mooers Forks, New York.

Rabideau had dived into the water Tuesday evening from a boat, which police believe had come over from New York. Windy conditions pushed the boat away from Rabideau, and he was unable to return to the vessel, police said. 

Several other people in the vessel attempted to save Rabideau. They called for emergency response around 6:19 p.m. 

Multiple police, fire and rescue personnel responded to the scene to search for the missing swimmer. The man had not been located by Wednesday afternoon.

Police urge anyone with information about the incident to contact the state police barracks in St. Albans at 802-524-5993.

Safety tips for swimmers and boaters

During a news conference Wednesday, Schirling offered the following tips for boaters and swimmers to recreate safely: 

  • Know your own abilities and don’t try to exceed them. Distance can be deceiving in the water.
  • Check the weather and water temperature before going out.
  • Don’t swim alone — use the buddy system. 
  • Tell others your plans, including where you’re going and when you expect to return. 
  • Use personal flotation devices and have a throw-able flotation device on board vessels. 
  • Take a boater safety course before going out on the water. 
  • Don’t use alcohol or drugs while boating or swimming.

Contact Elizabeth Murray at 802-651-4835 or emurray@freepressmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizMurrayBFP.

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