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Man dies while swimming in Flathead Lake

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FINLEY POINT – Lake County Sheriff Don Bell released the name of a man who died in Flathead Lake on Sunday, Aug. 4.

Michael John Chernikoff, 34, of Polson, was riding in a boat when he decided to get out and swim to Bird Island, according to Bell. Chernikoff experienced complications during his swim back to the boat that are unknown at this time. “Passersby in a boat stopped to assist and pulled Michael aboard,” Bell said.

After pulling him into the boat, the good Samaritans found that Chernikoff wasn’t breathing and didn’t have a heartbeat. They called Lake County 911 for help at around 3:30 p.m. and then started emergency first aid and headed for Finley Point State Park.  

Lake County Search and Rescue and Lake County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded with the Sheriff’s boat and search and rescue boat. Medical staff from Polson Ambulance services also responded.

Emergency responders reached the victim and continued the efforts to try and revive him but were unsuccessful. 

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office expresses condolences to the family for their loss. Chernikoff was sent to the Montana Crime Lab for an autopsy. 

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