Dive team crews spent the past two days searching for Brandi Humphrey, 35, after family said she jumped off a pontoon into Kimball Lake. Two people, who were also on the boat, said they jumped in to bring her a life jacket, but that she went under water and never resurfaced.
Humphrey’s fiancé called her a great mother who was a good swimmer.
It’s not clear what caused Humphrey to struggle once in the water.
Newaygo County Sheriff Mike Mercer said they’ll be getting some help from Ottawa County Tuesday morning. He said that team will bring the same equipment that proved effective in the search for a teenager who drowned after jumping into Lake Michigan last week.
Brandi’s fiancé, Mike Mead, told Fox 17 News that he and family rented a cottage on Kimball Lake for Memorial Day. The couple was just engaged over the weekend, Mike said, after dating for three years. Mike called Brandi “full of life, a great mother of three, and a strong swimmer” who grew up in Florida.
Sunday afternoon around 4 P.M. Mike, Brandi, and family were on a pontoon boat, when Mike said Brandi jumped into the water to cool off. He said she was not wearing a life jacket and she started to struggle. By the time family swam a life jacket out to her, Mike said Brandi had gone underwater.
Neighbors who witnessed this said they first heard screams.
“My sister heard someone scream ‘help.’ She said it was the most terrifying scream she’s ever heard,” said Jade Ostman, Kimball Lake neighbor.
Residents say the water was windy, and several boats out on the water created some waves.
“It was very choppy, because of the wind moving everywhere and there was a bunch of boats,” said Delaney Almock, Kimball Lake neighbor.
A group of neighbors who say this happened in front of their cottage called 911, and then rushed out on jet-skis to help.
“If you just jump in and there’s boats going by and some waves, you can get in trouble pretty quick. It was 50-feet of water where somebody marked where she was, so it’s very deep there,” said Matt McCallun, Kimball Lake cottage resident.
Newaygo County Sheriff Mike Mercer said crews searched until about 10 P.M. Sunday, then resumed early Monday morning. Sheriff Mercer also said both Newaygo and Montcalm Counties are using sonar boats, and have at least three crews of two divers rotating the search. However, the Sheriff said the water is murky, visibility is at about two-feet, and there are a lot of trees and debris underwater making the search difficult.
“Our major obstacle at this point has been the numerous sightings of exactly where she went down. It’s been very difficult to pinpoint that. So we’re having to search a fairly large area to start with,” added Sheriff Mercer.
Brandi’s fiancé Mike said the family wants to thank the Kimball Lake community for their hospitality, and for the many families who helped with the search.