Thursday, August 11, 2011

Drownings on Par for 74

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                  August 11, 2011
The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project
Dave Benjamin, Class Organizer & Media Relations

Great Lakes Drownings on Par of 2010 Course - 74
Stats to date: 52

GREAT LAKES, USA – The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project released its updated drowning stats for 2011, and unfortunately it’s been a very busy week and hitting par for the 2010 course.  To date, there have been 52 Great Lakes drownings (eight of those drownings since August 1).  As of August 11, 2010, there was 51 drownings to date.  As of the same date 2011, there are 52 drownings (Plus one drowning survivor still recovering in the hospital as of 8/8/11 and one drowning victim in Lake St. Clair). 

“The amount of drownings this year and last is unbelievable,” Dr. Rob Brander, posted on the Great Lakes ‘Third Coast Ocean Force’ FaceBook Group page.  “It rivals what we have here in Australia.” (!/groups/thirdcoastoceanforce/)

“It's unbelievable seeing these updates almost daily. There must be a case for getting funding to put into beach safety education on the Great Lakes.”

Dr. Brander, a surf scientist and beach safety educator from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia was nicknamed ‘Dr. Rip’ courtesy of Bondi Lifeguards.  His FaceBook page, “Dr. Rip Science of the Surf” offers some great rip current advice which could also apply to the Great Lakes (!/pages/Dr-Rips-Science-of-the-Surf/233716154489).

According to Dr. Brander, the best thing to do if you see someone in a rip is to calm the victim down any way you can. Talk to them just to stay afloat. Remind them that rips won't pull them under.  The key thing is that as long as they keep floating, they're alive.  In the meantime try and get some help or a flotation device.  There's a good chance that both the rescuer and rip current victim will float and follow the current to breaking waves and back to shore.

Dr. Brander grew up in Toronto one mile from Lake Ontario.  He plans to be in Toronto summer 2012 and is considering writing a paper on the types of rip currents in the Great Lakes, where the drownings occur, and what are the water safety and public awareness challenges.

“Dr. Rip is the Michael Jordan of rip currents,” said Bob Pratt, Surfboard Rescue Techniques class instructor.  “I am stoked and honored that this project has reached around the world to peak his interest.”


Below are the updated stats:

2011Great Lakes Drownings   
(52 as of 07/27/11)
(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   Saugatuk                     rip current
24.              Tues     8/9       Bradley Stoner            22-M   Saugatuk                     rip current
25.              Wed    8/10     Brett Vanetten                        20-M   Well St. Beach, Gary  rip current

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

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

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

48.              Sat       2/26     Robert Quesnelle        40-M   Georgian Bay              Snowmobiling
49.              Mon     4/18     James McComb II       20-M   Port Austin                  Wash from pier
50.              Sun      7/24     Jason McLeod             20-M   Port Franks                  Swimming
51.              Sun      7/31     Jan Raczychi               49-F     Tobermory                   Scuba
52.              Mon     8/1       Donald Dorey             42-M   Long Point                  unknown

53.              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.
54.              Mon     8-1       Mark Urness                53-M   Frankfort                     rip current (CPR)


In 2010 approximately 74 people drowned in the Great Lakes primarily due to rip currents.  The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project is made up of Great Lakes surfers dedicated to reducing drowning incidents on the Great Lakes. Surfers have a long history of rescues along our coasts.  Surfers are often in the water when conditions are most dangerous: high surf and cold water. 

The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project consists of two elements:
1. The “Surfboard Rescue Techniques” class;
2. The “Third Coast Ocean Force” Rip Current Awareness PSA Campaign.

The “Surfboard Rescue Techniques” class is currently FREE and OPEN to the public – Friends, Family, Employees, Employers, Surfers, SUP’ers, Kayakers, Professional Water Rescue Personnel, Social Groups of People, etc.
The “Surfboard Rescue Techniques” class will teach participants how to:
--Recognize the danger of the surf environment keeping personal safety as THE primary responsibility – Identifying hazardous conditions
--Understand rip currents; i.e. how, where, and why rip currents occur; How to survive rips;
--Know the “Signs of Drowning” – How to identify a person in trouble from within a crowd.
--Summon help
--Use a surfboard or other flotation device to rescue a person in distress or in a rip current
--React when encountering swimmers who have suffered an injury
--React to an unconscious victim
--Enroll in lifesaving, first aid and CPR training from accredited agencies.

The Great Lakes are sometimes referred to as the “Third Coast” of the United States and the “Third Coast” can have "Ocean Force" rip currents during windy weather conditions.  Each Surfboard Rescue Techniques” class will provide an opportunity to cause rip current awareness through the classroom as well as media opportunities.

  • Surfrider Foundation, Vince Deur & Ingrid Lindfors
Grand Haven, MI

  • Wet Mitten Surf Shop, Ben & John McNeil
301 N Harbor, Grand Haven, MI 49417
(616) 844-3388

  • No Quarter Surf Boards, Marty Karish
Grand Haven, MI

  • Great Lakes Proud, Austin Holsinger

  • The Great Lakes Surfing Association, Bob Beaton
Grand Haven, MI

  • Third Coast Surf Shop, Ryan Gerard
St. Joseph and New Buffalo, MI

  • Beach Nut Surf Shop, Larry Bordine
1100 Main St., Frankfort, MI 49635

  • Additional partners and sponsors coming soon…

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