UPDATED: Woman pulled from Lake Michigan at Harrington Beach State Park dies; search for man presumed drowned continues

Two were among group of five from Milwaukee area who entered lake from Town of Belgium park

A U.S. Coast Guard Jayhawk helicopter searched the Lake Michigan shoreline in the Town of Belgium early Monday evening for a Milwaukee man who entered Lake Michigan from Harrington Beach State Park with four friends and disappeared. Photo by Rich Reichelsdorfer
Ozaukee Press staff

A woman pulled from a rough Lake Michigan off Harrington Beach State Park in the Town of Belgium Monday afternoon  has died, and a man who was with her had not been found as of Tuesday afternoon and is presumed drowned, according to the Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Office.

Paige C. Berndt, 32, of Milwaukee was pulled from the lake by a man who was walking his dog and noticed her floating face-down in the water near shore, Lt. Marshall Hermann of the sheriff’s office said. Berndt was taken by ambulance to Aurora Medical Center in Grafton.

Berndt was the general manager of Water Street Brewery in Grafton, according to her Facebook page.

“The official cause of death is pending toxicology tests, but there is nothing to suggest this was anything other than an accidental drowning,” Hermann said.

The search for Ahmad Z. Adl, 34, of Franklin, which on Monday included boats from multiple agencies, U.S. Coast Guard  and Flight for Life helicopters, officers who combed the shoreline and dive teams from three Ozaukee County fire departments, was suspended that night because of darkness and weather. 

“It was all hands on deck,” Hermann said.

The search resumed Tuesday with officers and a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources airplane searching the shore and lake from just north of the Ozaukee-Sheboygan county line to Port Washington. Boats could not be used because of rough lake conditions, Hermann said. 

“This has transitioned from a search to a recovery effort,” he said. 

Berndt and Adl were among a group of five friends who were camping at Harrington Beach, entered the lake from the park and either walked or swam to a sandbar about 20 yards off shore, Hermann said. The three survivors, who are in their 30s and from the Milwaukee area, told authorities that when the lake conditions became rough, they were separated and attempted to make it back to shore on their own, he said. They were uninjured.

East winds that increased throughout the afternoon on Monday and shifted to the north on Tuesday created rough conditions and prompted National Weather Service warnings of strong shoreline currents from Harrington Beach south to Kenosha.

“People don’t understand the power of this lake and these currents,” Hermann said.

Authorities received the 911 call from a man who was walking his dog at 1:10 p.m. Monday. After seeing Berndt in the water, the man attempted to call 911 but didn’t have a cellular signal. Within a short period of time, he acquired a signal and made contact with an emergency dispatcher, then relocated the woman who had drifted north and pulled her from the water, Hermann said. 

“The female victim was face-down in the water and unresponsive,” he said. 

Hermann said the search for Adl’s body will continue as weather allows. Authorities hope to get boats, some of which may be equipped with sonar units, back on the water as soon as possible. Drones may also be used in the search.

In addition to the two helicopters and the Ozaukee County Sheriff’s Office, participating in the search Monday were boats from several agencies, including the Ozaukee Sheriff’s Office rescue boat and a Coast Guard boat from Sheboygan, dive teams from the Port Washington, Cedarburg and Mequon fire departments and ambulance crews from multiple departments. The Washington County Sheriff’s Department was standing by with search drones.




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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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Port Washington, WI 53074
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