National Drowning Prevention Alliance
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        “Community Lifesaver” Award 2016 & 2018

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3 Chicago area men drown

Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project
Dave Benjamin, Executive Director of Project Management & Public Relations
Bob Pratt, Executive Director of Education, 517-643-2553 

Three Chicago area men drown in separate incidents

            The Big Picture of Drowning – Leading cause of accidental death

Nonprofit calling for a Water Safety School Curriculum 

CHICAGO, IL – Three Chicago area men drowned in three separate incidents last weekend.

“Drowning season is never over,” said Dave Benjamin, executive director of the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project.  “Just because Labor Day has passed, many people will continue to venture to swimming destinations.”

  • On Saturday Angel L. Barreto, 22, of the West Rogers Park neighborhood, Chicago, drowned after trying to swim to a river island Saturday night in the Illinois River near Starved Rock State Park.  This is the third drowning incident this summer on the Illinois River in that general area. 
  • Early Sunday morning Robert Giner, 30, of Schaumburg was discovered in Middle Lake, in the Lauderdale Lakes area north of Elkhorn, Wisconsin. He was last seen about 2 a.m. on a dock on the lake. 
  • Sunday mid-afternoon, Amer Rustum, 54, of Willowbrook fell overboard from a boat on Lake Michigan near Indiana Dunes State Park.  He is the 21st person to drown in Lake Michigan this year and the 379th person to drown in the Great Lakes since 2010.

“As long as there is a body of water there’s a possibility of drowning no matter how good of a swimmer you are,” Benjamin added.  “The trick is increasing your water safety common sense and knowing how to survive a drowning incident.”

The BIG PICTURE of drowning – According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) an average 10 people drown each day in the United State.  Drowning is the:

  • Leading cause of accidental injury death for children 1-4
  • 2nd leading cause for children 1-14
  • 5th leading cause for the entire nation
  • 3rd leading cause worldwide

THE CALL FOR A WATER SAFETY SCHOOL CURRICULUM – In schools today there are fire drills, tornado drills, active shooter drills and in Illinois they even have earthquake drills, but little to no water safety education.  Unfortunately each year more school aged children will drown than die from fires, tornadoes, school shooters, and earthquakes combined.

So why is there no water safety school curriculum?  Well if the public is unaware of the nationwide and worldwide drowning epidemic, then the public might not be demanding for water safety to be taught in schools.

The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project (GLSRP) wants to change that.  The GLSRP demands that there be a Water Safety School Curriculum for elementary, junior high, high school students, the parents of each age group, and instructors of the curriculum to directly address the drowning epidemic.

They GLSRP has created a Fundraiser to help eradicate drownings through a “Water Safety School Curriculum”.  You can read about the cause and donate here:

GLSRP Drowning Statistics
Like GLSRP’s Facebook Page
Follow GLSRP on Twitter @ripcurrentsafeT


The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, Inc. (GLSRP) is about saving lives.  It is a nonprofit 501c3 corporation that is a Chapter of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA).


  1. Tracks the Great Lakes drowning statistics
  2. Teaches “Great Lakes Water Safety” classes
  3. Is the “Third Coast Ocean Force” rip Current Awareness Campaign
  4. Hosts Surf Lifeguard Certification courses, and
  5. Works with family and friends of Great Lakes drowning victims to advocate water safety.

Mission: To eradicate drownings by being the leader of Great Lakes water safety by providing training, public preparedness, and public awareness.

Vision: Everyone in the Great Lakes region, nationwide and worldwide, is knowledgeable, engaged and proactive in water safety with an emphasis on the Great Lakes region.

The GLSRP has performed over 60 Great Lakes Water Safety classes in 6 of the 8 Great Lakes states; Presented at the NDPA’s 12th Annual Symposium, March 14, 2013, in Ft. Lauderdale, FL.  It presented at the 2nd International Rip Current Symposium Nov. 1st, 2012 in Sydney, Australia; the 2012 winner of the “Outstanding Service to the Great Lakes Community” award presented by the Dairyland Surf Classic; the 2012 “Lifesaver of the Year” award winner; and presented at the NDPA’s 11th Annual Symposium in San Diego, March 9, 2012.


SAFETY TIPS – What everyone should know before they put their toes on the beach: