Monday, August 8, 2011

Drownings Reach 50 when 8 year old dies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                  August 9, 2011

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

Great Lakes Drownings Reaches 50 when 8 Year Old Dies

Just hours after the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project completed its “Surfboard Rescue Techniques” class and “Third Coast Ocean Force” rip current awareness campaign Sunday in Grand Haven, 116 miles south an 8 year old boy drowned in Lake Michigan. This is the 50th drowning on the Great Lakes this year.

Reports say that Martin Perez of Fort Wayne, Indiana was swimming with his family when his parents lost sight of him.  Divers found his body, performed CPR, and brought him to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.  There was a rip current warning in place during the time of the drowning, but officials said they are not sure if rip currents played a part in this drowning.  

“The problem is complex and 'colored flags' are not the total solution,” said Bob Pratt, Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project Class Instructor.  “We need to educate everyone about rip currents; how to recognize them and how to escape from them.”

“People need to realize that drowning victims DO NOT yell or wave.  Drowning is swift.  Drowning is silent.  And drowning is forever.”

According to Pratt, parents need to know how to protect their children. Children need to know how to swim AND how to swim in a lake with waves.  Beachgoers should learn how to use rescue equipment like life rings and how to do CPR.

The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project has a “Surfboard Rescue Techniques” class that is FREE and OPEN to the public.  It will teach participants how to recognize the danger of the surf environment; understand rip currents (i.e. how, where, and why rip currents occur); how to survive rips; to know the “Signs of Drowning”; and how to use a surfboard or other flotation device to rescue a person in distress or in a rip current.  The next class is scheduled for Sunday, August 28, in New Buffalo, MI.

Witnesses at the beach that day commented online:
“My family and I were just down from the boy and his family.  It happened so quick. But the story doesn't even sound like what happened at all. All the children watched this little boy pass away in front of their eyes.  He was no different from my kids in the lake.  I give my condolences to his parents and his family.” Jaclyn, Lansing, MI

“I was about 40 feet away when I saw the police and divers performing CPR. It is such a disappointment to see parents there and not watching their children. I am not saying this was the case, but it seems to happen a lot. My prayers go out for the family and I don’t wish for anyone to see what I saw yesterday.” Erin, Illinois.
TAGS:  Great Lakes, Lake Michigan, Rip Current, Surf, Surfing, Rescue, drowning, Third Coast, Water Safety,


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.

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

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

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

  • Great Lakes Proud, Austin Holsinger

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

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

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

  • Additional partners and sponsors coming soon…

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