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Three drownings in one week highlight dangers of Lake Michigan currents

A warning for swimmers after three drownings in one week in Lake Michigan
A warning for swimmers after three drownings in one week in Lake Michigan 03:04

CHICAGO (CBS) - -The dangers of Lake Michigan have been self-evident in recent days, with three drownings in just the past week.

The latest one was Wednesday night at Foster Beach.

As CBS 2's Jermont Terry reported Thursday night, many will hit the beaches this coming weekend. But the drowning of 20-year-old Amy Kelts should serve as a reminder of just how dangerous the currents of Lake Michigan can be.

Amy Kelts via GoFundMe

We have learned Kelts went into the water with a friend – and that friend barely survived herself.

On the first day of summer Wednesday, Kelts ventured onto Foster Avenue Beach on the north lakefront. The day on the sand and into the lake proved to be a fatal one.

After all, the 19-year-old went into the water after all the lifeguards were off duty.

A GoFundMe account says Kelts and her best friend jumped in together. Yet high currents caught them both. The GoFundMe says the best friend "barely made it out with her own life."

Divers searched Lake Michigan for over an hour Wednesday night, before darkness forced them to suspend the search. On Thursday morning, the recovery mission resumed – and divers found Kelts' body near a pier in 10 feet of water.

"If you are swimming when there's not lifeguards on duty, you're on your own, or you're at the mercy of a Good Samaritan helping you out," said Dave Benjamin, co-founder and executive director of the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, "and that Good Samaritan could be risking their lives as well."

Earlier this week in Porter, Indiana, a Good Samaritan pulled a 14-year-old girl from the water at Porter Beach. But her 19-year-odl male relative with whom she went swimming did not make it.

Investigators said the current pulled them deeper, where they both struggled.

The strong Lake Michigan currents also claimed the life of 7-year-old Onyx Torres offshore from the  Portage Lakefront and Riverwalk Beach in Portage, Indiana on Thursday of last week. Onyx had been swimming with his grandparents.

"And I'm told that my son was in the water - he was with his grandfather - and a wave took him," Onyx's mother, Natacha Cruz, said last week. "They said that he was about knees-deep. It doesn't make sense."

A witness told the Department of Natural Resources in Indiana that the boy was playing in the waist-deep water – and was then swept deeper by a current. His grandparents eventually lost sight of him.

With Kelts being the third person to drown in one week, the warning is to stay alert – especially if you go into the4 lake when no lifeguards are on duty.

As a reminder, Chicago beaches are open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. The drowning at Foster Beach was reported after 8 p.m. Wednesday.

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