A 14-year-old boy drowned in Lake Michigan after jumping from a break wall near Shorewood’s Atwater Beach around 6 p.m. Tuesday.
The city of Milwaukee’s Fire and Police Dive Teams, the U.S. Coast Guard, North Shore Fire and Shorewood Police searched the water and closed off the beach, which was full of people.
“I was playing with my grand babies in the sand, and all of a sudden I see people running towards the other end of the beach,” said Loriann Matthews. “I heard people saying that someone drowned, and then police arrived very fast. It was awful. I just pray for that family.”
Investigators interviewed the young boys, who were with the 14-year-old. They said the teen jumped into the lake from a break wall just north of the public beach area and never resurfaced.
The victim’s family was called to meet with police at the scene.
“It’s a tough thing for all of us,” said Shorewood Police Deputy Chief Kevin Carini. “You hate to respond to something like this. The victim is a young boy. We take it to heart. Swim safety, and water safety can’t be stressed enough.”
People who live nearby say this tragedy proves the need for lifeguards at Atwater Beach. There used to be lifeguards on duty, but they were eliminated this year. Residents aren’t sure why.
“We’ve been asking people in the community if it’s a budget thing,” said Laura Arnow. “As homeowners we were never told, or asked how we felt about it. There was no choice. I mean how much could it cost to put some young, certified lifeguards on this beach? It’s important. In the past the lifeguards would be there to tell people to stay off the break walls.”
There are signs posted at the beach warning of no lifeguards, and to stay off the break walls.