FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project
Dave Benjamin, Executive Director of Public Relations, 708-903-0166
Bob Pratt, Executive Director of Education, 517-643-2553
Chicago Lake Michigan drowning survivor to host Gary, IN water safety class — Turning tragedy into safety for the future
As Great Lakes drowning’s continue to rise; 274 since 2010
And New Buffalo High School presentation for 400 students and faculty
GARY, IN – The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project (GLSRP) announces that drowning survivor, Evelyn Hernandez, is hosting a “Great Lakes Water Safety” class in partnership with the Gary Department of Public Parks, Saturday, June 1, 9:00 a.m. at the beautifully restored Marquette Park Pavilion, Gary, IN.
On June 18, 2012, Hernandez survived a drowning accident in Beverly Shores, Indiana, but her boyfriend, Leonel Dominguez, 31, of New York did not.
“Hosting this class will help raise awareness for water safety on the Great Lakes and help others avoid this type of tragedy,” Hernandez said. “By giving back, I hope this prevents future drownings.”
“This class is also a way to honor Leonel’s memory and cope with the grief of this accident,” Hernandez added. “He loved the water, and I want to make him proud.”
The inflatable raft the two were in that day was caught in offshore winds and was moving out to open water. During the ordeal the winds picked up, the raft flipped, and blew away. There were some people on the beach watching them from shore, but they didn’t immediately realize that they were in trouble.
“The people thought that we were just swimming after we became separated from the raft,” Hernandez said.
Both Dominguez’ and Hernandez were good swimmers, but the 90 degree air temperatures, offshore winds and currents, and cold water upwelling kept the two from being able to swim back to shore.
Even though Hernandez is a physically fit endurance cyclist who completes the annual 200 mile YSC Tour de Pink each year from Philadelphia to Washington D.C., she was no match for the power of the lake’s currents.
“I know how to be completely exhausted on the bike and be able to push through it for another five miles and another five miles and even more, but in the cold water I couldn’t push anymore.”
Hernandez was trying to scream for help when a Good Samaritan and Marine, Nick Dominquez from Lockport, IL (same last name as Leonel, but unrelated), swam out to attempt the rescue.
In the water, Hernandez was at her end, giving up, praying, and making her peace until Nick heard her. He called out, “I can hear you, but I can’t see you.”
He got to her in time and swam her to a sandbar. Unfortunately when he went back for Leonel, he didn’t see him anymore.
“It amazes me how many people I have talked to after the accident that don’t understand how powerful the lake can be,” Hernandez added. “They have this notion that it’s ‘only a lake’. This misconception makes the lakes ever more dangerous, especially since water conditions can change so quickly, and so treacherously.”
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 “Great Lakes Water Safety” 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.