Friday, September 16, 2011

Rescue Class to Present at Annual Symposium

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                  September 16, 2011

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

Surfboard Rescue Class to Present at 11th Annual Symposium

GREAT LAKES, USA – The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project is excited and proud to announce that it will be presenting its "Surfboard Rescue Techniques" class at the National Drowning Prevention Alliance’s 11th Annual Symposium, March 7, 2012 in San Diego, California.

“Presenting allows us to bring the issues unique to the Great Lakes to a national forum,” said Bob Pratt, Surf Rescue Class Instructor.  “Our rip currents are different; they are caused by short fetch windswells, and our piers are solid structures that exacerbate the rip current problem.”

The Great Lakes have a short swimming season (typically three months), yet has a high number of drownings each year (74 in 2010; 68 to date in 2011).

“Addressing these challenges at the symposium may result in greater interest by researchers and may also result in expanded funding,” Pratt added.  “The ultimate goal is and will always be the prevention of drowning by increased education and a culture of respect for the power of the Lakes.”

“We will showcase the broad range of efforts taking place in the Great Lakes region. While the region may be struggling economically, volunteer and non-profit groups have stepped in to fill voids caused by a lack of lifeguards and cuts to public safety and education.”

The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project believes its class can serve as a national model bringing diverse groups (surfers, law enforcement, water rescue professionals, and the general public) together with the common goal of saving lives. 

The next “Surfboard Rescue Techniques” is Sunday, September 18, at Whiting Park, Whiting, IN.  The class teaches 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 class is FREE and OPEN to the public.  Feel free to invite your friends, family, and water enthusiasts (Surfers, SUP’ers, Kayakers, Professional Water Rescue Personnel) for an informative water safety class and a fun day at the beach.


This SUNDAY'S Surf Rescue Class information is at:

The National Drowning Prevention Alliance is a volunteer-driven 501(c) 3 nonprofit organization founded in 2004. NDPA members are dedicated to preventing drowning for all age groups in all bodies of water through public education, advocacy and strategic partnerships. The public is invited to join by visiting    

Sunday, September 11, 2011

2011 Drownings Reach 68

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                  September 12, 2011

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

2011 Great Lakes Drownings Reach 68

GREAT LAKES, USA – According to The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, in 2011 there have been 68 drownings in the Great Lakes.  Rip currents can be a leading cause of death. 

A crisis point
“The Great Lakes drowning situation continues to reach a crisis point,” said Bob Beaton, president Great Lakes Surfing Association.  “Over the years we have had many life threatening incidents even on small-wave days.  Once the August/September winds pick up, we really have our hands full out there.”

According to Beaton, water safety activists need to continue to develop lifesaving methods with the number one priority – getting flotation devices to the victims because it takes less than one minute for a swimmer in distress to become fully submerged.

What’s at the source of all theses drownings?
“There are several issues going on,” said Bob Pratt, Class Instructor for The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project.  “The three biggest factors are ignorance, bravado, and inattention by parents.  Knowledge is power, and we need a huge education effort across several spheres.”

Pratt has been collecting drowning data since 2007 and formed “The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project to promote water safety and rip current awareness. Its fifth “Surfboard Rescue Techniques” class of 2011 will be hosted Sunday, September 18 in Whiting, IN.

Rip currents demonizing beaches
“Rip current drownings are demonizing the beaches of the Great Lakes,” said Larry Bordine, Beach Nut Surf Shop owner. “The Great Lakes are very dangerous to those who don't understand them. Understanding rip currents can make the lakes safer for everyone by either avoiding rips or knowing how to escape from them.”

“Of the 68 drownings, none were in Frankfort, Michigan where they never close the pier or beaches and encourage surfing,” Bordine added.  “Each year there are several undocumented surfboard rescues.  When a surfer rescues a swimmer it usually goes unnoticed, but if a swimmer drowns it makes the headlines.”

Surfers make a difference
“I know surfers make a difference in saving lives, and we can always learn more,” said Vince Deur, Surfrider Foundation Lake Michigan Chapter. “Every warm beach day when we have waves, my heart flutters because I feel like somebody is going to get into trouble.”

“Inexperienced swimmers may head towards rip currents because it's where waves seem the calmest,” added Deur.  “If ever caught in a rip current, the natural instinct is to swim straight for the shore and tire yourself out.  This could be tragic.  Instead swim parallel to the shore.”

Deur has been surfing the Great Lakes for 30 years, is an expert at surviving potentially deadly rip currents, and is also with the Grand Haven Water Safety Task Force. 

Education is imperative
“It’s imperative that more people around the Great Lakes gain knowledge and experience on drownings and rescues,” said Mike Killion, Great Lakes Surfer magazine founder and CEO.  “It's sad that people may die on the same day we find joy and fun riding the Great Lakes.”

According to Killion, rip currents are a surfer’s friend and can be a swimmer’s nightmare.  Rip currents can carry surfers out past the breaking waves to the line up without wasting much energy, while rip currents can exhaust inexperienced swimmers to death. 

An unfortunate reality
“Drownings in the Great Lakes are an unfortunate reality that may never be completely eradicated,” said Ben McNeil, Wet Mitten Surf Shop co-owner. “The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project’s class presents a very creative and practical solution to bring down the number of drownings.”

“I’ve been in rip currents numerous times in different bodies of water,” added McNeil. “Being caught in a rip current is a scary experience that can be deadly if you don't know how to respond.  From a very early age, I learned to respect the power of the water.”

NEXT SURF RESCUE CLASS – Whiting, IN Sun., 9/18

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:

2011Great Lakes Drownings   
(68 as of 09/11/11)
(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-M   Hagar                          rip current
31.              Sun.   8/28     Rayan Sami Bokhari   22-M   Porter                          rip current
32.              Fri.     9/01     John Doe                     30-M   Kruse Park,MuskegonRip current
33.              Sun.   9/04     Wojciech Sadowski    25-M   New Buffalo               Rip Current
34.              Thur.  9/08     Phebe Hall                   54-F     Holland                       Unknown

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

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

49.              Tues.  1/4       Porter Simpson            7-M     Niagara on the Lake    Unknown
50.              Sat.    2/6       John Doe                     ?-M      Toronto                       Unknown
51.              Sat.    6/25     John Doe                     30’s-M Toronto                       Unknown
52.              Sat.    7/2       Jane Doe                     50’s-F  Toronto                       Unknown
53.              Sun.   7/17     Visu Vimalan              48-M   Trenton Ont.               Rip Current
54.              Sun.   7/17     John Doe                     35-M   Toronto                       Swim from boat
55.              Sun.   7/17     John Doe                     29-M   Wasaga                        Beach Ont. PWC
56.              Tues. 7/19     Uche Chuks’               13-F     Hamilton Ont.             swimming from dock
57.              Tues. 7/26     Shaylean Richards      32-F     Fair Haven                  rip current
58.              Mon.  8/1       John Doe                     49-M   Sandbanks                   rip current
59.              Sat.    8/20     John Doe                     25-M   Rochester                    unknown
60.              Sun.   9/06     John Doe                     14-M   Orilla, Ont.                  Unknown

61.              Sat.    2/26     Robert Quesnelle        40-M   Georgian Bay              Snowmobiling
62.              Mon.  4/18     James McComb II       20-M   Port Austin                  Wash from pier
63.              Sun.   7/24     Jason McLeod             20-M   Port Franks                  Swimming
64.              Sun.   7/24     Ragna Bersenas           67-F     Georgian Bay              Swimming
65.              Sun.   7/31     Jan Raczychi               49-F     Tobermory                   Scuba
66.              Mon.  8/1       Donald Dorey             42-M   Long Point                  unknown
67.              Thurs. 8/11     Jason McDonough      36-M   Sauble Beach              unknown

68.              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.
69.              Mon.  8-1       Mark Urness                53-M   Frankfort                     rip current (CPR)

2010 Great Lakes Drownings   
(74 as of 09/05/10)
Note: An asterisk identifies a “would be rescuer”.

1.      Tues           1/26     Mauricio Guaylias                   27-M   Chicago                       Unknown
2.      Tues           3/2      Richard Wieting,                     53-M   Montrose (Chi.)           Unknown
3.      Sun            4/25     Ryan Lightfoot                       28-M   Petoskey                      Canoeing   
4.      Sun            4/25     Clifford Denay                       27-M   Petoskey                      Canoeing 
5.      Tues           4/18     John Doe                                     -M   Zion                             Unknown
6.      Thurs         5/27     Katlyn LeClaire                      13-F     Escanaba                     step -off
7.      Sat             5/29     Kelvin Motsinger                    9-M    Green Bay                    Unknown       
8.      Wed          6/09     Sofia Khan                              9-F       Holland WI                 kayaking
9.      Wed          6/9       DeVale Thompson                  16-M   Whiting                       Pier jump
10.  Sat             6/19     Vidyasagar Kapoor                 30-M   Chicago                       Unknown
11.  Tues           6/22     Antoine Miller                         21-M   Waukegan                   swimming
12.  Fri              6/25     Paris Bankhead                       20-M   Ill Beach St. Park        swimming
13.  Sun            7/4       Destiny Bahena                       9-F       Ind. Dunes                  rip current*
14.  Sun            7/4       William Lott                            25-M   Silver Lk. St. Park       rip current
15.  Sun            7/11     Perla Solis                               6-F      Covert Park                 unknown
16.  Fri              7/16     Jordy Graves                           17-M   South Haven               rip current
17.  Sat             7/17     James Savage                          55-M   Garfield Twp              swimming
18.  Fri              7/23     Mark Scheuer                          49-M   Grand Haven              rip current*
19.  Sun            7/25     Alfonso Quintero                    26-M   St. Joe                         rip current
20.  Sun            7/25     Jeremiah Green                       12-M   Racine                         unknown
21.  Sun            7/25     Lindsay Bilka                          17-F     Muskegon MI             rip current
22.  Mon           7/26     Kristopher Kane                      19-M   Sheboygan WI                        rip current
23.  Thur           8/5       Richard Drake                         67-M   Covert Park                 rip current
24.  Thur           8/5       Arther Walker                         71-M   Covert Park                 rip current
25.  Fri              8/6       Patrick Reymann                     63-M   Harbor Springs            kayaking
26.  Sun            8/8       Cody Prentiss                          15-M   Calumet Park              unknown
27.  Wed          8/11     Roman Bravo                          19-M   Ill. Beach St Park        unknown
28.  Sat             8/14     Anthony Goldsmith                44-M   Ludington MI             rip current
29.  Sun            8/15     Enrica Lorenz                          27-F     Muskegon MI             rip current
30.  Mon           8/16     Ethan Seitzer                           10-M   Berrien County           rip current
31.  Mon           8/16     Dolsey Lynn Squires               41-F     Gr. Traverse Bay         rip current
32.  Thur           8/19     Richard Habermas                  76-M   Grand haven               rip current
33.  Sun            8/22     Lorenzo Greer                         17-M   Mich. City IN             rip current
34.  Sun            8/22     Scott Hoover                           14-M   Mich. City IN             rip current
35.  Fri              9/3       Timothy Horvath                    26-M   Lincoln Twp MI          rip current
36.  Mon           9/3       Anupam Bhattacharjee           26-M   Ludington MI             pier wash-off
37.  Sun            9/13     Daniel Logsdon                      23-M   Warren Dunes             unknown
38.  Sat             9/18     Timothy Spiller                       49-M   Ludington                   fall from pier

39.  Mon           6/28     Andrew Mooney         21-M   Long Beach ONT                   rip current
40.  Tues           7/6       Louis Barba                 16-M   Sterling St. Park MI                swimming
41.  Thurs         7/8       Anthony Alexander    17-M   Mentor OH                             rip current
42.  Sun            7/11     Chris Alkerton                        18-M   Rock Point      ONT                swimming
43.  Wed          7/14     Victor Arce Jr.                        30-M   Westfield        NY                  swimming
44.  Tues           7/27     Edwin Acosta             41-M   Cleveland        OH                  swim/boat
45.  Sun            8/8       Nate Polosito              14-M   Westfield        OH                  rip current
46.  Mon           8/16     Marco Butler               18-M   Rock Point      ONT                rip current
47.  Thur           8/19     John Doe                     40s-M  Erie                  PA                   unknown
48.  Thur           8/19     John Doe                     53-M   Sherkston        ONT                rip current
49.  Mon           8/23     Cynthia Riediger         53-F     Pelee Island     ONT                rip current*
50.  Mon           9/6       Harallamb Tasi            24-M   Monroe MI                              swimming       
51.  Fri              9/11     Marshal Sharpe           58-M   Hamilton ONT                        fishing
52.  Sun            10/10   Mohammed Aljiboori 19-M   Cleveland OH                         Unknown

53.  Sat             7/3       Marvin Charette          18-M   Red Cliff                                 Unknown
54.  Wed          7/21     Rod Nilsestuen           62-M  Picnic Rocks                           rip current
55.  Thur           8/5       Elias Jenkins                15-M   Presque Isle                             rip current
56.  Thur           8/5       Alex Schuiteman         16-M   Presque Isle                             rip current
57.  Thur           8/5       Douglas Smith                        50-M   Grand Marais                          rip current
58.  Thur           8/5       Eric Smith                   16-M   Grand Marais                          rip current
59.  Fri              8/27     Devante Billups          18-M  Picnic Rocks                           swimming

60.  Mon           3/29     Jill Williams                 85-F     Sodus N.Y.                             Unknown
61.  Fri              5/28     Edward McMillon      20-M   Rochester NY                         Pier Jump
62.  Wed          6/09     John Doe                     23-M   Pt. Dalhousie                           fall from pier
63.  Fri              7/22     Justin Callahan            29-M   Brighton ONT                         kayaking
64.  Wed          7/28     Mehmet Yilmaz          22-M   Irondequoit Bay                      swim/boat
65.  Fri              8/6       Richard Woodall         77-M   Ellisburg ONT                         fishing
66.  Thur           9/2       Michael Steger            36-M   Olcott NY                               fishing

67.  Sun            4/16     Lawrence Burack        61-M   Saginaw Bay                           Fishing
68.  Tues           6/29     Douglas Rucinskas      5-M     Bayfield ONT                         rip current
69.  Tues           6/29     Andrew Rucinskas      48-M   Bayfield ONT                         rip current*
70.  Sun            7/25     George Georgion Jr     16-M   Lexington MI                          rip current
71.  Tues           7/27     Joseph Lathan             18-M   Conneaut OH                          pier jump
72.  Sun            8/15     John Doe                     10-M   Georgan Bay                           canoeing
73.  Mon           8/16     Oksana Milovanovic   16-F     Kincardine ONT                     rip current
74.  Thurs         8/19     John Doe                     24-M   Sauble Beach ONT                 unknown