Authorities warn Lake Michigan swimmers after 3 recent drownings

Posted at 11:39 AM, Aug 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-08 17:45:57-04

KENOSHA -- Three teens have drowned in Lake Michigan in the past 4 weeks.

In the most recent drowning, police say an 18-year-old was struggling in the water off the North Pier in Kenosha and the current was too strong.

Chief Carson Wilkinson, with the Somers Fire Department says if you find yourself in rough water stay calm and try to swim parallel to the shore.

"Struggling usually just wears you out and then you are not able to tread water or anything else to save yourself at that point," Wilkinson said. "Swim along the shoreline. It's still going to take you out, but you will get out of the current and then you'll be able to float or swim back in."

Wilkinson is a master diver with 35 years of experience on the water. His resume includes being a part of the Kenosha County Dive Team for more than a decade.

"You should not swim anywhere if you're not familiar with the current. If you're not familiar with what's under the water, don't get in," said Wilkinson.

Last month down in Panama City Beach Florida, dozens of strangers jumped into action to save a family from drowning. The crowd formed a human chain and rescued the struggling swimmers.

Wilkinson says that scenario doesn't always work.

"That will only work if everyone holds together. If someone drops an arm, the chain breaks. A human chain is only as good as its weakest link," Wilkinson said.

The chief says the better choice is to throw out a rope or a life preserver, but if you do jump in to rescue the struggling swimmer, make sure you grab a life jacket or anything that floats before you go in.