Part One Tonight: Under Water: Searching for Air

Updated: July 12, 2018 04:41 PM

Her waves are beautiful but deceiving. Every year dozens are taken under by the wrath of Lake Superior and the other Great Lakes.


"Drowning can happen within seconds," Petty Commander Erik Soderman told Eyewitness News. "If it's really rough out and you have some rough seas, and you take a big breath of air and you get water instead, you could drown right there." 

According to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Program, there have been 660 Great Lakes drownings since 2010, and there have been 37 already this year.

With the summer months here, many are heading to the waters of Lake Superior to have fun and cool off.  But the biggest of the Great Lakes can turn deadly with changing conditions and the threat of rip currents.

“This one is just so different from the other lakes,” Jesse Schomberg of the Minnesota Sea Grant said.  

"People underestimate Lake Superior a lot thinking that it's just a normal inland lake," Soderman said. "It is technically but even though there's no tides and currents like the ocean, Lake Superior can kick up and get nasty within minutes."

Last August, authorities were called to a rescue attempt off Park Point when a father and daughter were reported missing in the high surf of Lake Superior.  Lily and Ryan Fugile, of west-central Wisconsin, drowned.  
"We are the land of more than ten thousand lakes," Rescue Captain Kevin Haney with the Duluth Fire Department said. "There's a lot of water around. Lake Superior can be a little trickier than most of the waters." 

Drowning was the reported cause of death in 80 percent of recreational boating fatalities in 2016, according to the U.S. Coast Guard and 83 percent of who drowned were not wearing a life jacket.

There are ways to keep you and your family safe.  How can you tell if there are dangerous rip currents and what should we do if we are ever caught in one?

Under Water: Searching for Air... Part One tonight on Eyewitness News at Ten

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