Great Lakes Drownings Top 100 in 2012

Jan 7, 2013

More than 100 people drown in the Great Lakes last year and half of them were in Lake Michigan. That’s according to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project.

Spokesman Dave Benjamin says one explanation for so many deaths in Lake Michigan is the lake is so long, 320 miles. Most of the wind comes out of the north or the south.

“When you get all that wind travelling all that distance over air, which is unobstructed because it’s just water there’s no buildings or trees in the way, you get a lot more possibility for waves or rip currents.”

Benjamin says rip currents appeared to be an issue in about a third of the deaths last year. But he says a bigger problem is the lack of parental supervision. And sometimes it’s both.

“There have been a few instances where children may have been dropped off near the beach. Parents didn’t even see the water, didn’t even know the conditions.”

The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project counts 101 confirmed drownings across the Great Lakes in 2012. That’s up from 74 deaths in 2010.

Most of the drownings occurred in southern Lake Michigan. Swimmers also drown in Ludington, Leland, Cross Village and in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.