Police identify drowning victim

By Jenny Lancour


ESCANABA – Visitation and services will be held Saturday for the teen who drowned in Escanaba earlier this week, according to Crawford Funeral Homes, which is assisting the boy’s family with funeral arrangements.

Johnathan Ernest Andrew Whitehouse, 13, died Tuesday evening while swimming in the bay off Aronson Island. Escanaba Public Safety confirmed the identity of the deceased this morning following the release of his obituary.

Whitehouse was swimming with a friend when he failed to return to the shore. The teen was swimming back from a sand bar about 200 yards off shore, said police who suspect the boy drowned after becoming fatigued in the high waves.

Officials began looking for Whitehouse after he was reported missing at 5:22 p.m. Aronson Island and the Sand Point Peninsula were closed during the search.

Following an intensive four-hour search on land and water and from the air, his body was found off the northeast shore at around 9:15 p.m., said police. He had been swimming in an area that is not supervised by lifeguards.

In addition to local law enforcement, a U.S. Coast Guard boat and helicopter aided in looking for the missing boy. Gladstone Public Safety assisted with its hovercraft. The Delta County Sheriff’s Department was on the scene with its rescue boat.

Other agencies assisting in the search included Delta County Search and Rescue, Delta County Dive Team, Michigan State Police, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, and the local Victims Services Unit.

According to Whitehouse’s obituary, the teen attended Escanaba schools.

He enjoyed football and hockey and was also interested in working on cars. His complete obituary can be found on page 5A.