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Mother of past drowning victim calls for safety changes after another goes missing

Posted at 5:53 PM, Sep 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-07 19:17:09-04

The recovery search for a missing teenager in Lake Michigan has been called off, a situation all too familiar for Susan Foster.  

Her 30-year-old son died in the same place crews spent two days searching for the latest victim. 

"Ben and a couple friends were going to jump off the end of the pier and go and have a picnic around the other side on the beach and they didn’t understand the currents," said Foster.

Foster's son Ben drowned when he jumped in off the North Pier in Kenosha more than five years ago. This is the same spot a group of teenagers from Indian Trail High School and Academy was taking pictures and jumping in Thursday before the current took a 17-year-old.  

"A kid went in and he was not able to get out," said Ryan McNeely, Division Chief of Training and Safety, Kenosha Fire. "Witnesses saw him go under and he never surfaced again,"  

The Fire Department got a call about someone in the water around 5 p.m. Thursday.  They searched for hours before temporarily calling off the recovery search around 8:30 p.m.  They started the search again Friday morning with help from about a dozen agencies and called it off around 4:30 p.m. 

Foster said her son was a good swimmer, but the current was stronger.  

"It pulled him right under and 12 days later they found his body," she said.

There are two warning signs posted on North Pier, but Foster wants a safety ring on the pier like others along Lake Michigan.

"For some reason, somebody is not getting it done and that needs to be done," she said. "I know if that ring would have been there for my son it would have helped him because they couldn’t pull him in." 

Witnesses told us friends of this most recent victim also tried saving their friend.

"This area is just so dangerous," said Foster. "Those waters are just churning underneath there."

Foster hopes people will get educated about what to do if they get pulled by a current. 

Fire officials remind people in the area to be vigilant. 

"Be wary of Lake Michigan," said McNeely. "It’s a dangerous thing if you’re going to go in the water. Life jackets save lives.  Where there's posted signs not to go in, don't go in."

Fire officials said four people died in Lake Michigan in Kenosha this summer.