SAINT-JOSEPH, Mich. — A father is dead after drowning while attempting to rescue his two children at Lions Park Beach in Saint Joseph.
"It was very hard. It was very hard to see," says resident Joan Guilfoyl. "He had scars on his chest, the poor young man, from getting roughed up by the water."
According to the Saint Joseph Public Safety Department, the children were rescued by a first responder. At the same beach, two others were rescued by a surfer who was in the area.
"These individuals were not over their heads in water," says Steve Neubecker, director of the Saint Joseph Public Safety Department. "They were up to their chests in water when they were swept away."
The 44-year-old victim was from Lakeville, Indiana, about an hour south of Saint Joseph.
Dave Benjamin, executive director of the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, says there's a common belief that tourists are more likely to drown than locals. He doesn't believe that's necessarily true.
"There may be some people who live miles away from the beach and they never go," says Benjamin. "Whereas you may have people that are within an hour, two hour drive that go every weekend."
While he knows why the father attempted to rescue his children, Benjamin also cautions against rushing headfirst into dangerous water if you aren't a professional swimmer.
"Take something with you that floats, because you will likely need it yourself," warns Benjamin. "And if you make contact with the drowning victim, that drowning victim may climb all over you because they're panicking. So you want to give them the flotation so that they can stop their panic attack in the water."
Benjamin says if there are no lifeguards in the area, surfers like the one in this case are a great source of help as well because they have their boards for flotation and know the water extremely well.
Thursday night was a dangerous one on Lake Michigan. A 13-year-old girl went missing and was found dead at Warren Dunes State Park as well. The search also continues for a man presumed dead who went missing in New Buffalo.
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