Three people rescued from Lake Michigan waters

2013-07-24T11:00:00Z 2013-07-25T11:27:06Z Three people rescued from Lake Michigan watersStan Maddux Times Correspondent
July 24, 2013 11:00 am  • 

MICHIGAN CITY | Two people were close to drowning Tuesday afternoon when they were rescued by lifeguards at Michigan City.

Waves on the lake reached as high as 10 feet Tuesday.

The swimmers, described only as a male and female, were semi-conscious and regurgitating water once reaching shore, an official said.

"It was actually a very close call," said Jan Orlich, superintendent of the Michigan City Park Department.

Orlich said the swimmers were past the buoys about 60 yards away from the shore and outside the designated swim area at Washington Park, close to the lighthouse pier.

Lifeguards were fastened to lifelines anchored to the shore. Despite 6- to 10-foot waves, they managed to swim out to both victims who were struggling to stay above the surface, she said.

Orlich said both swimmers were taken away in an ambulance.

"From what we understand, everything is fine. They are OK," Orlich said.

At about the same time, a third individual required assistance from lifeguards to get out the water.

Orlich said red flags were posted warning swimmers to stay out of the water due to high waves and rip currents. She said lifeguards remained on duty, though, perched in their towers and patrolling the shoreline warning swimmers to stay out of the turbulent water.

There are also yellow flags posted at the beach advising swimmers to use caution whenever the potential for rip currents exist or if weak rip currents have been detected. Green flags mean no dangers are present.

Indiana Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Gene Davis said people who venture into the water despite rip current warnings are risking their lives. People caught in a rip current can be carried away from shore and left too exhausted to make it safely back to shore.

"We've had people that are professional swimmers that tell you they just don't stand a chance against the power of those rip currents," Davis said.

Davis said the best thing to do if caught in a rip current is to relax and go with the current until the current subsides -- then swim back toward shore.

"The worst thing you can do is struggle against those rip currents because eventually you are doing to wear out and you're going to go down," Davis said.

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