RACINE, Wis. — Nineteen. That is how many drownings have taken place in Lake Michigan this year alone, according to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project.
In this TMJ4 News report, we show you why Racine County leaders have installed some expensive technology.
Racine's North Beach has real-time warning lights from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It's after so much tragedy last year, when five people drowned in Lake Michigan last year in Racine alone.
"There's undercurrents, currents and there's all kinds of things, and of course the weather," said Racine resident Marilyn Davis.
Which is why county leaders invested in this traffic light, which tells you what to expect before you go into the water. On Wednesday it was yellow, which let this camp counselor know to use caution with her 17 children. "I only let the kids go up to my waist because then there is no undertow," said Teresa Miranda. "Kids can walk up and see what a light means, you know it's just like a stoplight."
Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave says very soon lifeguards in this area will have at least four remote-controlled buoys. "Just like a remote control car, the lifeguard can control these remote-controlled buoys, and hold on until somebody can get to them," said Delagrave.
When there is a water rescue underway, the county executive says the Racine County Sheriff's Office now has two drones. "They can drop life preservers. So swimmers in peril can hang on to those as well," said Delagrave.
The county executive says in all, the technology, life vests and rings on hand costs county taxpayers about $150,000.