MUSKEGON, Mich. — Eight-seven people drowned in the Great Lakes in 2011, up from 74 the previous year, a safety group says.
Bob Pratt, chief executive of the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, called the 2011 drowning total "tragic." Pratt told The Muskegon Chronicle (http://bit.ly/xgX74z ) that his group seeks to prevent drownings by educating people about the dangers of the lakes and teaching them how to use such tools as surfboards to save lives.
"In 2012, we will be working hard to reduce these numbers through our water safety and surf rescue classes," said Pratt. "Knowledge is power."
Of the Great Lakes drownings in 2011, 44 occurred in Lake Michigan, according to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project.
The group blamed 15 of the Lake Michigan drownings on rip currents. Other causes included accidents while boating, sailing, canoeing and kayaking; jumping or falling from a pier or dock; walking on ice; and attempting to flee police.
In nine drownings, the causes were unknown.
The group said Michigan waters had the highest number of drownings in 2011 with 18. Illinois had 13 in the Chicago area and one in another municipality, Indiana had six and Wisconsin five.