A Northern Michigan surfer witnessed a man fall off the Frankfort pier into the roiling Lake Michigan waves, and shared his story of his attempt to save him.

In a compelling story posted to Facebook, surfer Ryan Gerard of St. Joseph told of his attempts to save the life of a fisherman he saw fall into Lake Michigan.

Gerard was surfing near the Frankfort pier when he sensed trouble.

A couple hours into the session I was waiting for a set when I noticed a couple guys scrambling around way out on the pier. I saw one grab a life ring off the stand and throw it into the water. It was pretty far away but I could tell something was wrong, so I started paddling out there. It probably took me 7-8 minutes to get out there on my 7’10 - it’s a long, concrete pier - and as I got closer there were three guys on the pier pulling someone in on the life ring.

Gerard got to the man just as he fell off the life ring, and quickly grabbed him and placed him on his surf board and got him back to the pier, where the fisherman's friends immediately began CPR as they waited for first responders.

Unfortunately this story does not have happy ending, as the rescue attempts failed to revive the man, who was officially pronounced dead at the hospital. His name has not yet been released.

Gerard later told MLive.com that his actions were instinctual.

"I've been doing this for 20 years, so I'm pretty in tune with what's happening out in the water, and on a day like that, if someone's walking out on the pier, I'm peeking over to see if anything's happened. I just instinctively started paddling that way."

This is another reminder of the ferocity of the waves on Lake Michigan ahead of a storm. Respect them. This shows you how quickly things can go bad.

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