Lifeguards and the U.S. Coast Guard kept a close eye on Lake Michigan beaches Monday following a deadly weekend.
On Saturday, rip currents claimed the lives of a 15-year-old suburban Chicago boy and 37-year-old man from Lafayette, Ind. Officials say red flags were being flown at the New Buffalo City Beach and Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore when both men drowned. What's worse, rescuers say, neither man was wearing a life jacket - a buoyant device that would have saved their lives.
On Monday, an estimated 300 people extended their weekend, plopping down on the sand in New Buffalo. The surf, much more tolerable compared to Saturday when waves topped six feet.
The U.S. Coast Guard canvassed the shoreline utilizing a helicopter Monday, as five of New Buffalo’s staff of seven summer lifeguards surveyed the water from the sand.
"If you're in a rip current it’s impossible to beat it. I don't care if you're a professional swimmer, Michael Phelps could not get out of a rip current. What you have to do is just let it take you out. If you fight it, you’ll just wear yourself out and lessen your chances of being able to get out of it,” lifeguard Carter Perry said.
According to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, Lake Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie and Ontario have claimed 44 lives so far this year. On a broader scope, 306 people have drowned since 2010. The vast majority of those deaths have come at the hands of rip currents.