Nonprofit labels Lake Michigan as deadliest Great Lake - WNEM TV 5

Nonprofit labels Lake Michigan as deadliest Great Lake

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MICHIGAN, (WNEM) -

A nonprofit group is labeling Lake Michigan the deadliest Great Lake.

The Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, a nonprofit that tracks incidents and spreads awareness, reports there have been 31 drownings already this year in the Great Lakes – 17 of those have occurred on Lake Michigan.

Dave Benjamin with the Great Lakes Rescue Project said the lake’s beach access contributes to its popularity. The lake is only the third-largest, but it is surrounded by popular cities, like Chicago.

According to the group, fatal drownings nearly doubled in 2016 and most occurred in Lake Michigan.

There were 99 deaths on the Great Lakes in 2016, the worst year for drownings since 2012. Those killed ranged in age from 9 to 75, the group reported.

Rip currents are often cited as a factor in the drownings, but there's no scientific way to determine whether one was involved, the National Weather Service said.

Experts said Michigan’s relatively mild winters have resulted in warmer lake water, according to the Detroit Free Press. This draws more swimmers and increasing the odds of tragedy.

Drowning fatalities in the last seven years: 

  • 2010 – 17
  • 2011 – 87
  • 2012 – 101
  • 2013 – 67
  • 2014 – 54
  • 2015 – 55
  • 2016 – 99
  • 2017 – 31 to date

To see more statistics, click here

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