Following a pair of scary incidents over the weekend near the beach at Kenosha’s Pennoyer Park, a group of community leaders is working to promote safety on the lakefront.
A young father died after jumping into the water near where the Pike River empties into Lake Michigan to try and save his 10-year old daughter. He had to be pulled from the lake by first responders on Saturday, but eventually passed away Monday at a nearby hospital.
On Sunday, several people had to be rescued by two nearby surfers after getting caught in a dangerous rip current at the same spot.
“It’s inviting to be in the water, and people don’t always know the underlying dangers,” said Cindy Altergott, Executive Director of the Kenosha YMCA. “It’s heartbreaking, and it’s exactly the reason you need to increase water safety awareness.”
Altergott is part of Kenosha’s new Safety Around Water Initiative. It’s a group that includes community leaders and first responders and seeks to promote safe practices around the lakefront.
She said the group has only held three meetings so far and is still looking to add more members.
But the Safety Around Water Initiative has already partnered with a local newspaper to publish a summer series on water safety.
Altergott said members are also in the early stages of exploring the idea of adding shoreline markers, much like mile markers along the interstate, to the Kenosha lakefront.
“If you were in a water emergency you could look quickly and see the closest sign where you’re at,” Altergott said, emphasizing the signs are just an idea at this point. “We want to make sure we can get someone to that location as quickly as possible.”
“We’re starting out with the mission of, ‘How can we increase awareness? What do we do to keep increasing awareness to keep our kids safe around the lake?’” she said.
Lisa Pugh, who frequents the lakefront with her husband and two young daughters, said she thinks extra signage around the area at Pennoyer Park where the river meets Lake Michigan could be helpful.
“The signs there right now are small - I feel like they’re not big enough,” Pugh said.
She added she would also support the installation of additional signs warning lakefront goers about dangerous currents around Kenosha’s pier.
“The currents can be tricky,” Pugh said. “You have to stay away from the areas where the current goes under or where there are high waves.”