Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Drownings Reach 62 & Rip Alert Labor Day Weekend

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                  August 30, 2011

The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project
·         Dave Benjamin, Class Organizer & Media Relations

·         Bob Pratt, Class Instructor & Water Safety Expert

Deadliest Weekend - Great Lakes Drownings Reach 62
Labor Day Weekend Rip Current Alerts!

GREAT LAKES, USA – Last weekend was the deadliest rip current weekend in 2011.  Five people drowned in Lake Michigan, bringing its total to 31.  Overall, Great Lakes drownings has reached 62.

The Latest drowning victim
Valparaiso University student, Rayan Sami A Bokhari, is the 62nd person to drown in the Great Lakes in 2011.  Bokhari, and eight friends, all VU students, had arrived at Porter Beach after being turned away from Indiana Dunes State Park because swimming was restricted due to high waves and rip currents.  His body was recovered Monday afternoon after he went missing at Porter Beach.

Ryan Gerard, the owner of Third Coast Surf Shop in New Buffalo and St. Joseph, MI was at the beach at the time of the incident.

“We witnessed the recovery efforts and his friends frantically searching from the beach. It was sad, but there was nothing anyone could do once his head dipped under the last time,” said Ryan Gerard.  “Nobody knew where he was.  Talk about a helpless feeling.”

To Wilmette, IL resident, Steve Fuchs, Great Lakes drownings are hard to understand because he’s a surfer that recently moved from Los Angeles.  The west coast does not see these drowning numbers because of ocean lifeguards and public awareness about the surf conditions.

 “It's a major issue around the Great Lakes,” said Steve Fuchs. “I had no idea.  It is borderline bizarre.” 

“Lake Michigan is not dangerous if you are prepared to handle the conditions.  Many surfers dream for huge waves, wind, and the conditions that the general public is not prepared to handle,” Fuchs added.  “The Great Lakes need to be treated like the third coast of the United States. At times the waves and currents feel exactly like beaches in California.

According to Fuchs, educating Great Lakes communities about the wide range of quickly changing water conditions, rip current awareness, and coordination with the existing civic support infrastructure and schools, is a key component to saving lives, preventing community hysteria, and learning to protect and enjoy each weather and wave personality of the Great Lakes.

With Labor Day Weekend approaching, The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project is issuing Lake Michigan Rip Current Alerts for the entire weekend. 

Whenever there are winds over the Great Lakes, there are waves.  Wherever there are waves, there are rip currents.  South / southwest winds are forecasted to blow all day Friday and strong north / northeast winds are forecasted to blow Saturday through Monday. 

What to do if caught in a rip.
If you're caught in a rip current, don't panic or swim against the current.  Flip, float, and follow the current to assess which way the current is pulling you. Then swim parallel or diagonally to shore until you are out of the current.

Drowning statistics below:

2011Great Lakes Drownings
(62 as of 08/29/11)
(Info provided by the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project)

1.                  Sat     1/1       Michael Hilling           19-M   Chicago                       Retrieving object
2.                  Wed   2/2       Peter Davis                  60-M   Chicago                       Unknown
3.                  Mon   2/14     Casey Palmer              23-M   Milwaukee                  Walk on ice
4.                  Fri      4/8       Sarah Goenne              61-M   Chicago                       Fall from dock
5.                  Mon   4/11     Jane Doe                     13-F     Kenosha                      Pier Jump
6.                  Sun    5/22     Terrell Burton              19-M   St. Joe                         Pier jump
7.                  Wed   6/8       Jorge Martinez            55-M   Chicago                       swimming
8.                  Sun    6/19     John Doe                     5-M     Chicago                       Fall from pier
9.                  Fri      6/29     Steven Link                 42-M   Sheboygan WI                        Step-off
10.              Sat     7/2       Timothy Judge            44-M   Muskegon                   Scuba
11.              Sun    7/3       Tyon McNeil               5-M    Covert                         Unknown
12.              Mon. 7/4       Chris Szmajlo              29-M   Chicago                       Boating
13.              Fri.     7/15     Jane Doe                    ?-F       Racine                         Unknown
14.              Fri.     7/15     Mark Tuthill                47-M   Portage                        Step off
15.              Sun    7/17     Marche Wilburn          6-F       Gary Ind.                    Unknown
16.              Sun    7/17     Mark Morley               51-M   Charlevoix                   Sailing
17.              Sun    7/17     Suzanne Bickel           41-F     Charlevoix                   Sailing
18.              Wed   7/27     Sharon Walsh              69-F     Chicago                       unknown
19.              Mon   8/1       Javier Rivera               19-M   Chicago                       Swimming
20.              Tues   8/2       Chandra Aravind        33-M   Chicago                       Boating
21.              Wed   8/3       Delilah Hope Perez     13-F     Pentwater                    rip current
22.              Sun    8/7       Martin Perez                8-M     Mich. City                   rip current
23.              Tues   8/9       Daniel Reed                46-M   Saugatuck                   rip current
24.              Tues   8/9       Bradley Stoner            22-M   Saugatuck                   rip current
25.              Wed    8/10     Brett Vanetten                       20-M   Gary                            rip current
26.              Thur   8/18     Dolsey Squires            41-F     Northport Beach         possible rip current
27.              Sat     8/27     Willie Bogan               11-M   Racine                         rip current
28.              Sat     8/27     Pawel Lesney              33-M   Gary IN                       rip current
29.              Sat     8/27     Tristan Shambee          14-M   Wilmette                     rip current
30.              Sun    8/28     Robert Klepacki          44        Hagar                          rip current
31.              Sun    8/28     Rayan Sami Bokhari   22        Porter                          rip current

32.              Sun    5/22     Donald Morrow          55-M   East Harbor                 Fall from dock (etoh)
33.              Tues   6/14     Susan Zatek                55-F     Monroe                        Fishing
34.              Tues   6/28     Zachary Wadding       18-M   Ripley N.Y.                 Rip Current
35.              Tues   6/28     Joselito Irizarry           30-M   Edgewater                   Pier Jump
36.              Sun    7/3       Daniel Abel                 53-M   Kelley’s Isle                Boating
37.              Thur. 7/20     Herman Teichroeb       24-M   Port Burwell                Swimming
38.              Tues. 7/26     Aiden Nicoll               7-M     Presque Isle                 rip current
39.              Wed. 7/27     John Doe                     27-M   Presque Isle                 Swimming from boat
40.              Sun    7/31     John Doe                     ??-M    Kelleys Island             Swimming from boat
41.              Sun    7/31     Darylle Phoeur            17-M   Avon Lake                  Rip Current
42.              Tues   8/23     Antron Davis              25-M   Cleveland                    unknown

43.              Tues   6/7       Kevin Dammen           20-M   Apostle Islands           Kayaking
44.              Mon   7/11     Monty Lyons              42-M   Duluth                         unknown

45.              Tues   1/4       Porter Simpson            7-M     Niagara on the Lake    Unknown
46.              Sat     2/6       John Doe                     ?-M      Toronto                       Unknown
47.              Sat     6/25     John Doe                     30’s-M Toronto                       Unknown
48.              Sat     7/2       Jane Doe                     50’s-F  Toronto                       Unknown
49.              Sun    7/17     Visu Vimalan              48-M   Trenton Ont.               Rip Current
50.              Sun    7/17     John Doe                     35-M   Toronto                       Swim from boat
51.              Sun    7/17     John Doe                     29-M   Wasaga                        Beach Ont. PWC
52.              Tues   7/19     Uche Chuks’               13-F     Hamilton Ont.             swimming from dock
53.              Tues   7/26     Shaylean Richards      32-F     Fair Haven                  rip current
54.              Mon   8/1       John Doe                     49-M   Sandbanks                   rip current
55.              Sat     8/20     John Doe                     25-M   Rochester                    unknown

56.              Sat     2/26     Robert Quesnelle        40-M   Georgian Bay              Snowmobiling
57.              Mon   4/18     James McComb II       20-M   Port Austin                  Wash from pier
58.              Sun    7/24     Jason McLeod             20-M   Port Franks                  Swimming
59.              Sun    7/31     Jan Raczychi               49-F     Tobermory                   Scuba
60.              Mon   8/1       Donald Dorey             42-M   Long Point                  unknown
61.              Thurs  8/11     Jason McDonough      36-M   Sauble Beach              unknown

62.              Sat     4/23     Hassen Randel                        37-M   Black Creek                Fishing (boat)

One Lake Michigan case pending: He did drown and survived. As of 8/8/2011, he still might be in hospital in serious to critical condition. Not sure? Hope he’s recovering well.
63.              Mon   8-1       Mark Urness                53-M   Frankfort                     rip current (CPR)


MORE INFORMATION about the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project is at:

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH – List of Businesses and Organizations is at:

In the News – Overall Media Coverage:

TAGS:  Great Lakes, Lake Michigan, Rip Current, Surf, Surfing, Rescue, drowning, Third Coast, Water Safety,

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