National Drowning Prevention Alliance
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Anniversary of 8 Labor Day Drownings

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

 Exercise Hyper-Vigilant Water Safety as the

One year anniversary of 8 Labor Day drownings approaches.

57 Great Lakes drowning’s to date in 2013; 319 since 2010

GREAT LAKES, USA – The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project (GLSRP) requests that beach goers exercise hyper-vigilant water safety awareness this Labor Day Weekend so there is no repeat of 2012’s 8 Labor Day Great Lakes drownings.

This request also comes as the GLSRP announces its current drowning statistics. To date in 2013, 57 people have drowned in the Great Lakes.  Overall since 2010, 319 people have drowned (74 in 2010; 87 in 2011; and 101 in 2012).  (Click here for full list of statistics.)

And with the current wind forecast for this weekend, beach goers could be susceptible to the Great Lakes Dangerous Currents (rip currents, flash rip currents, longshore currents, structural currents, and offshore winds).

“The Great Lakes are beautiful, but they can be very dangerous,” said Dave Benjamin, executive director of the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project.  “Winds cause waves, waves cause dangerous currents, and the strength of those currents increase with the strength of the wind and size of the waves.  Those currents can prove to be deadly”.

“We are devastated by the loss of our son,” said Tinley Park resident, Kathleen Kocher.   Her son, Matthew, 15, was pulled from the Lake Michigan surf by lifeguards at New Buffalo City Beach July 27.

2013.08.28 Matt Kocher

According to the Kocher family, Matthew was a brilliant son who played piano since kindergarten, was in honors band, a three-sport athlete who played volleyball, basketball and football at Tinley Park’s Andrew High School, and an honor roll student.   He also volunteered for Special Olympics events for 10 years, received a Christian Leadership Award, and aspired to become a doctor.

“Little attention is placed on rip currents, also known as dangerous currents, and to us a death current,” Kathleen Kocher added.  “More needs to be done for water safety awareness, particularly beach safety.”

The GLSRP is also hosting an ISLA “Surf Lifeguard Certification” course in Holland, MI October 4-6 in Holland, MI.  This is the only open water / rough water course available on the Great Lakes. “Most lifeguards on the Great Lakes are not trained to surf rescue standards. Class participants that are currently registered in the course are representing Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, and Lake Erie.  Participants are traveling from as far away as Duluth, Cleveland, and even Connecticut. .  The only open water / rough water course available on the Great Lakes. Read more…


 The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, Inc. (GLSRP) is about saving lives.  It is a nonprofit corporation that is a Chapter of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA) that tracks drowning statistics, teaches “Water Safety Surf Rescue” classes, and leads the “Third Coast Ocean Force” rip current awareness campaign on the Great Lakes.  Become a member of the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project.

The GLSRP 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 2011 “Lifesaver of the Year” award winner; and presented at the NDPA’s 11th Annual Symposium in San Diego, March 9, 2012.