National Drowning Prevention Alliance
     “Lifesaver of the Year” Award 2012 & 2020
        “Community Lifesaver” Award 2016 & 2018

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5 men drown in Great Lakes the First Weekend of Fall

Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project
Dave Benjamin, Executive Director, 708-903-0166,
Bob Pratt, Executive Director of Education, 517-643-2553, 

Deadly start to fall on the Great Lakes

3 Illinois Men Drown in Lake Michigan across 3 states

1 in Lake Superior and 1 in Lake Ontario 

GREAT LAKES, USA – The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project (GLSRP) announces its current drowning statistics.  In 2017, the GLSRP is tracking 81 Great Lakes drownings.  Overall since 2010, the GLSRP has tracked 618 Great Lakes drownings.  Full statistics here.

“Unfortunately drownings happen year round on the Great Lakes,” said Dave Benjamin, GLSRP Executive Director. “And hot weather had many people flocking to the water for the first weekend of fall.”

“Many people think that Labor Day ends our drowning season, said Bob Prat, GLSRP Executive Director. “But in reality it just changes from beachgoers to sportsmen.  Less people may be swimming, but people are still boating, fishing, and recreating on the Great Lakes.  In most cases, lifejackets would save most of these late season drownings.”

Here’s a look at the deadly first weekend of Fall 2017:

09/24/2017 – Raymundo Zambrano, M-49, of West Chicago, Illinois died after being found in Lake Michigan on Chicago’s North Side near Montrose Beach near the 4400 block of North Lake Shore Drive. An autopsy Monday showed he drowned, and ruled his death an accident.

09/24/2017 – Alex Lopez, M-21, of Plainfield, Illinois drowned while kayaking Sunday. Lopez was kayaking with two friends approximately 150 yards offshore from Porter Beach in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore when their kayaks capsized shortly after 5 p.m. Sunday.  Lopez was not wearing a life vest. He went under the surface of the water and did not return. His two friends were wearing life jackets and were able to stay afloat and summon help.

09/24/2017 – Robert Amenitsch, M-66, of Niles, Illinois was being towed on a floating raft at a very low speed behind a boat operated by his son died in apparent drowning. While being pulled slowly, Amenitsch rolled on his back and into the water near the shoreline. Michael, the boat operator, immediately turned the vessel around and found his father unresponsive.

09/24/2017 – Aaron Timmerman*, M-42, of New Hope, Minnesota, was diving Saturday afternoon just north of Split Rock Lighthouse up the North Shore at the popular sight of the Madeira shipwreck. According to the sheriff’s office, witnesses had seen Timmerman surface and call for help, but no one was able to reach him before he went underwater. Two members of the group located him unresponsive on the bottom of the lake. The cause of death remains under investigation.

09/23/2017 – Mark Deiter, M-56, of Pennsylvania submerged when the boat he was fishing in began to take on water while fishing at Sunset Bay Park in the Town of Scriba. Two passengers jumped from the boat, but 56 year-old Mark Deiter was still on it when it went completely underwater. The two passengers that jumped off the boat used floatation devices and a cooler to float. The body, whom authorities believe to be Deiter, was found still in the boat in about 100 feet of water.



The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, Inc. (GLSRP) is a nonprofit 501c3 corporation that is about saving lives. 


  1. Tracks the Great Lakes drowning statistics (618+ drownings since 2010)
  2. Performs “Great Lakes Water Safety” presentations and trainings (Over 475 in 7 of the 8 Great Lakes states since 2011)
  3. Works with family and friends of Great Lakes drowning victims to advocate water safety.
  4. Hosts Open Water Surf Lifeguard Training and First Responder In-service Training

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.


  1. WGN Chicago’s Very Own segment, “Man makes water safety education his life’s passion”
  2. Dave Benjamin’s drowning accident and ‘Because I said I would’ water safety promise video
  3. John & Kathy Kocher’s “Gentle Giant” ‘Because I said I would promise video.

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Follow GLSRP on Twitter @ripcurrentsafeT