RACINE — The Racine County Sheriff's Office is investigating an incident after a 9-year-old girl drowned in Lake Michigan. They say they got a call about a female possibly drowning at Zoo Beach around 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
Once they were able to remove the girl from the water they took her to the hospital.
Unfortunately, she succumbed to her injuries while hospitalized and passed away.
Just five minutes after the first call, the Racine County Communication Center received another call about a drowning off North Beach. A 17-year-old boy was located once responders were on scene, and he's currently in critical condition.
United States Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan Public Affairs Lieutenant Junior Grade Phillip Gurtler said it is vital people are strong swimmers before entering the lake.
"If you're not confident as a swimmer there's nothing wrong with wearing a life jacket, Gurtler said. "That is the number one thing that can really save your life."
Great Lakes Surf and Rescue Project Executive Director Dave Benjamin said knowing survival strategies can also help you when you're in danger.
"If you are eve struggling in water over your head, we recommend you flip, float and follow," Benjamin said.
Other ways to stay safe includes having someone to swim with, having a flotation device and knowing your abilities as a swimmer.
Just this year there have been 13 Lake Michigan drownings and 30 Great Lakes drownings, according to Great Lakes Surf and Rescue Project.
Racine resident Heather Yohn frequents North Beach and said there once were lifeguards present but not as of late.
"[Even] being an experience swimmer, [you] can still lose your balance and lose your way here," Yohn said.
She believes having lifeguards on duty can help save lives.
Both incidents are under investigation and there's currently no further details.
The Milwaukee Recreation Department is offering $5 swim lessons to three qualifying locations across the city this summer. Find out more details here.
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