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Lake Michigan Drownings Continue Despite Warnings

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Despite continued drownings and warnings from experts, dangerous conditions on the Great Lakes left three swimmers missing and claimed the lives of two others over the weekend.

On Saturday, 31-year-old Jose Rubio's body was pulled from Lake Michigan about two miles east of the Diversey Harbor at 2600 N Lake Shore Drive. He was the 19th person to drown in Lake Michigan so far this year.

Two others were pulled from Lake Michigan in Hammond and Michigan City, IN and survived.


Drowning incidents in Lake Michigan area regular occurrence, especially during summer months; almost 200 people have drowned over the last five years, according to data compiled by the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project.

But despite efforts to prevent deaths in the lake, tragedies like the one over the weekend continue to occur.

In June 2018, after the drowning death of 13-year-old Darihanne Torres in Chicago's Rogers Park neighborhood, former 49th Ward Alderman Joe Moore organized a task force to ensure such a tragedy never happened again.

In its report, presented to the Chicago City Council on April 10, the task force acknowledged the city is trying to reduce the deaths by posting new signs and flags, especially around more dangerous areas like piers and jetties. It also said the city doesn't have enough qualified lifeguards to sufficiently staff all its beaches and is working to recruit more by providing training, including partnering with Chicago Public Schools.

But the report also said the city has no data on drownings, leaving officials without an accurate accounting of the problem. Without good official numbers, the report said, researchers have no choice but to rely on statistics gathered by Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project.

Those statistics show Lake Michigan is by far the deadliest of the great lakes, with an average of more than 35 deaths on the lake each year. Last year there were 43 drowning incidents on Lake Michigan, the data shows. The next most deadly, Lake Erie, had on average less than half the number of drowning incidents.

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