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Michelle Davies | The Journal Gazette
Rescue workers prepare to leave the scene of a death in the Kekionga Shores subdivision Monday. Adam Palm, 31, was pronounced dead after going under the surface of the water while trying to retrieve a beach ball.

Dad, 31, dies swimming

Went under as he tried to recover lost beach ball

The Journal Gazette

She wore a ponytail, jeans and a dazed look as she picked a towel up off the ground.

A few children clad in swimsuits surrounded her while the woman walked near the swimming area of Kekionga Shores, a quiet southwest subdivision off Liberty Mills Road.

It wasn’t long before she caught sight of the television news crews and reporters.

“Why do you have cameras?” she asked as she cried. “Why are there cameras here?”

Moments before, rescue workers pulled the body of 31-year-old Adam Palm from water 10 or 12 feet deep.

He had been swimming with several children Monday – some if not all of whom were his daughters – when he went to retrieve a beach ball that had floated away into deeper water, began to struggle, went under and never came back up.

Medics rushed him to nearby Lutheran Hospital where he was pronounced dead in what could be ruled a drowning as early as today.

Many residents, some who have lived in the subdivision more than 35 years, could not remember another drowning there.

But those residents were out and about as the Fort Wayne Fire Department’s Water Rescue Team – which trains regularly at the lake – as well as ambulances, police cars and Indiana Department of Natural Resources began to line up on Missauke Trail, along the lake just inside the subdivision.

Some residents rode bikes down to the lake and began asking what happened; some walked; some drove by slowly, sliding down their car windows.

Investigators with the DNR said a call came to emergency dispatchers at 2:19 p.m.

Dispatchers were told a man went under the water and never resurfaced.

The water rescue team was able to locate Palm within 30 minutes of arriving.

He was about 30 feet from the shore, according to the DNR.

At the scene, one of his young daughters clung to a woman and gave a tearful account of what happened to a DNR officer.

Another young girl sat quietly at a picnic table, giving a different officer her version of events.

At some point, the beach ball Palm and his girls were playing with blew past him.

He ran into trouble when he went to retrieve the toy. Palm was not wearing a lifejacket.

Where he and his girls were swimming has been a haven for swimmers for decades but is only open to residents and their guests.

It’s not clear if Palm lives in the neighborhood or has family that does.

Off and on throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Kekionga Shores used to hire a lifeguard to look after swimmers for a few hours on summer afternoons.

The neighborhood association quit doing that more than a decade ago, though, and no lifeguard was present when Palm went under the water.

There are small white buoys in that part of the lake that give swimmers an idea of where the water gets deep enough where most people will be in over their head.

These buoys are put out in the water every year.

Friends and family of Palm’s made the scene, comforting the children and driving them away from the lake.

The Allen County coroner is scheduled to perform an autopsy and rule on Palm’s cause of death. The death remains under investigation.

jeffwiehe@jg.net

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