Almost Dead in the Water: A Decision Made Strictly Based on Financial Reasons

Thanks to Lifeguarding skills learned at Ludington High School by Marvin Brault, a 16 y.o. girl is alive today. 


Andrea Mendez and five of her friends were out on the lighthouse breakwall at about 6 PM on Tuesday 7-27-10 with the intention of jumping off the breakwall because it was the thing to do.  She went first off the western side.


"I jumped in and I was fine.  I know how to swim and stuff, but the waves just kept going over and over my head.", she explained.  Her friends and other bystanders told her not to panic, and a couple of them dove in to help-- but they had difficulties also.  "I didn't think I was going to come back up", she had thought as she tired and was about to give up.


Marvin Brault saw the problem and helped out using what he had learned at LHS swimming classes, which included some lifeguarding skills.  "The current was coming out of the southwest so it was taking her toward the beach.  I saw her go under, she was actually under the water.  My adrenaline was going.  I jumped in and grabbed her under her arm.", he recounted.


"We were struggling to get back to the ladder, the waves kept pulling us from it.  I basically had to carry her halfway up the ladder."  When asked further about it he added, "I didn't think twice about it; I just did it.  Somebody needed help and I helped them."


The hero has spoken, and now... the, shall we say, non-heroes speak:


Following a state trend, Muskegon pulls lifeguards to save money
Published: Tuesday, June 22, 2010
 Megan Hart | The Muskegon Chronicle


...Ludington city manager John Shay said the city also cut its lifeguard program, saving about $27,000.


“This was just one of many cuts we made,” he said. “It was a decision made strictly based on financial reasons. If we had the resources we once had, we would probably still have the lifeguard program.”...


Resources not squandered on $826,000 transient docks and $20,000 raises for the City Attorney no doubt, but Police Chief Barnett also had a say in the LDN 7-31-10 article:


LPD Chief Barnett said the activity is common but is dangerous and illegal.  "We routinely receive dozens of complaints each summer.  We do issue citations when possible."  He noted that a person can be cited for swimming outside a designated swim area, and the activity can result in a misdemeanor offense with up to 90 days in jail and/or a $500 fine. 


Technically, he is right-- and maybe some jail time and a stiff fine will get Ms. Mendez and her friends to think twice about jumping in a no-swimming area in Ludington.  Yet somehow, I don't see any of our strictly full-time officers trudging across the sand to patrol this area regularly.


And let's look again at our so-called hero, Marvin Brault, who admits to a lifetime of committing misdemeanors and to an ignorance of the law:


"It's not just Ludington area kids, everybody does it.  I've been jumping off the breakwall since I was 8.  When I was about 12, we were all out here, my friends and me, and I didn't know how to swim and they just threw me."  He said the day Mendez nearly drowned there were about a dozen people jumping off the breakwater. 


"Yesterday, we walked the breakwall again to see if anyone else was doing it, and I saw a sign right there that said you're not allowed to jump off the breakwall.  I didn't know that it is illegal, I mean I'm from here and I didn't know that."  He said he never noticed the sign before.  "It didn't seem like a big deal."


I seem to remember that part of the lifeguards duties were to enforce the park's rules and know of a couple of kids reluctant to jump off the breakwall when the lifeguards were out (like they would have been at this time), for fear of being reprimanded.  This near-tragedy shows that the Ludington lifeguards are not only missed for their potential life-saving feats, but also for their keeping the Stearn's Park users from doing unsafe and illegal acts. 



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RJE makes an excellent point again, and has several pics. to prove this type of reckless endangerment off the lighthouse recently; the father and son that almost perished in crashing 10' waves off the north pierhead, there again, dad's a fool. Please feel free to post them here, thanks.
Good point as well Aquaman. Obviously, RJE is doing missionary work with his pictures for the "Let's ROLL" group over at Talks-- and we welcome all of his submissions here.

RJE, if they initiate police actions to close the beach when the conditions were like they were on that day at Stearn's Park (conditions I like), you can always enjoy the beach elsewhere (I was enjoying the waves out at the third curve that day). Isn't the City then pushing money-engorged tourists away from the municipal area?

I am confused on a point. The argument (beyond the economic) against lifeguards was that the city would have potentially more liability if a drowning did occur while the lifeguards were present. Yet when the park reverts to the "swim at your own risk" level, the governing unit closes the beach when they determine it is a bit unsafe to get in the water, and dutifully enforce it. If a drowning does occur at the beach in the future due to riptides(w/o lifeguards) can't the aggrieved parties point to this incident and ask why the City did not close the beach this time? Anyone?
Sure would think so, that any attorney could then make that case even stronger with this closure incident. Hard to understand the method of madness with the city fathers thinking these days, very hollow/shallow, yet full of hypocrisy and double-takes.
OK. I posted them.
RJE, were these guys dodging the waves beforehand or did they just get caught in a couple of big waves following one another?

Mayor John E. Henderson, have you had a hard time sleeping in the last couple of weeks?
I only saw them as I was taking photos of the lighthouse and they were walkin back to the beach.


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