drownings

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Coast Guard says current high water levels increase the risk of Electric Shock Drowning.
Dan Wanschura / Interlochen Public Radio

High water levels in the state have the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Coast Guard concerned about Electric Shock Drowning.

Creative Commons

According to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, there were 118 drowning deaths in the Great Lakes last year; a record high for the past decade. This year follows a similar pattern, with 11 drowning deaths by the beginning of June. 

 

Dave Benjamin, executive director of the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, encourages swimmers to be aware of swimmer safety protocols. 

 

Morgan Springer

 


Grand Traverse County could be forced to decide whether to spend $1 million to fix Easling Pool in the next year. Financial concerns about the only public pool in the area have sparked debate about whether water safety is the county’s responsibility.

There are plenty of places to swim up north, but until recently school kids didn’t get any water safety training. Now the county might get out of that business.

Recent deaths from drowning in Grand Traverse County have put water safety in the high school curriculum. All freshmen in Traverse City schools will spend a few hours this year learning about the dangers of water.

Such instruction is less common that you might think up north.

If you grew up downstate, you might have taken swimming lessons at school and learned some of the basic safety mantras like, “reach or throw, don’t go” if a swimmer is in trouble. But few schools up north have swimming pools. Harbor Springs is a notable exception.

As summer water temperatures warm-up, more people are enticed into playing in the big waves. And warnings about dangerous currents are being posted at more beaches.

The number of people who have drowned in the Great Lakes or been rescued has gone up in each of the last three years. And researchers are testing ways to better forecast dangerous nearshore currents.

Nearly Drowned

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.

It was a deadly weekend on the Great Lakes. Seven people drowned, including three in Lake Michigan.

Kevin Schlake, 40, of Cincinnati, died Sunday after swimming at Peterson Beach, toward the southern end of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Schlake was caught in a rip current. The family says he was trying to rescue a 12-year-old nephew. Schlake’s brother-in-law was able to make it to shore after a struggle in strong surf.

Also this weekend, a Chicago doctor drowned at St. Joseph beach while trying to rescue two children.

There were 87 people who died by drowning last year in Great Lakes waters, according to numbers reported by the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project.

A significant number of swimmers were caught in rip currents. Project CEO Bob Pratt says safety experts are still learning about rip-current survival, but there's some evidence to suggest the best thing for a swimmer to do if caught in a rip current is to stop swimming.

Preliminary autopsy results confirm suspicions that a Mancelona teen who drowned in Traverse City's Clinch Marina this week did suffer an electric shock while in the water.

Eighteen-year-old Michael Scott Knudsen died by shock and drowning, according to a release today from city officials.

Knudsen was swimming with a friend off "Dock F" Monday. His friend also reported being shocked, but he managed to make it back to the surface. Power has not been restored to the dock, and that section remains closed.

An 18-year-old man from Mancelona has died after swimming near Traverse City's Clinch Park Marina.

Police say Michael Knudson was swimming with a friend near the F dock of the marina when he appeared to be shocked and then disappeared. His friend says he also felt an electric shock but was able to make it back to the dock.

Police are investigating what might have happened to cause the drowning.

UPDATE 5:00 p.m.