Rescue units and bystanders gather on the shore near the boat launch at the eastern end of Geneva Lake Monday as rescuers search for a Chicago man who failed to resurface after swimming from a pontoon boat. The body of the 40-year-old man was recovered Tuesday morning. (Ed Nadolski photo)

A group accompanying a Chicago man watched helplessly as the man began to struggle, slipped below the surface of Geneva Lake and drowned Monday while swimming from a rented pontoon boat, according to an official with the Geneva Lake Law Enforcement Agency.

The body of David R. Trehane, 40, was recovered just before 8 a.m. Tuesday, Commander Tom Hausner said in a news release. Trehane was pronounced dead by the Walworth County Medical Examiner.

He and other members of his group went swimming from a 25-foot Misty Harbor pontoon boat rented from a local agency when the trouble arose early Monday evening.

According to Hausner, members of the group that was with Trehane told investigators the pontoon boat had drifted away from Trehane and as he began to struggle he called out for them to come get him.

“They were unable to get the boat started to return to the area (where) Mr. Trehane was struggling,” Hausner wrote. “They did throw a lifejacket toward Mr. Trehane, but he was unable to retrieve it.”

Members of the group immediately called 911 at 5:05 p.m. and rescuers responded to an area of the lake near the Stone Manor in the vicinity of pier 880, according to Hausner.

The call brought a massive response from both law enforcement and fire/rescue agencies and shut down much of Lake Geneva’s eastern shore and adjacent streets for hours as the rescue attempt transitioned into a recovery effort, according to Hausner.

The recovery operation was suspended by darkness, but resumed at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Hausner said the investigation is continuing, but no criminal charges are expected.

Law enforcement officers from City of Lake Geneva, Town of Linn and Walworth County Sheriff’s Office responded. The City of Lake Geneva Fire Department was the lead fire and rescue agency with mutual aid from City of Delavan, Troy Center, Whitewater, City of Burlington and Paratech Ambulance. Dive teams from Darien, Elkhorn, Fontana, Linn, Sharon, Williams Bay, the Walworth County Sheriff’s Department and the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Office responded as well.

Units from the Town of Delavan and Lyons, along with Racine Fire Bells were also on scene. The Geneva Lake Water Safety Patrol also assisted, according to Hausner.


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