Stearns Beach in Ludington usually doesn't have too many near-drowning incidents before August, but this Monday, July 17, the wind blew in and the local beach got a little choppy for a couple of young boys frolicking in the waves near the breakwall.  As related by a Detroit TV station:

LUDINGTON, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) - A mother and her two young sons were rescued after struggling in the water at a beach in Ludington. 

At about 12:46 p.m. on Monday, July 17, first responders were called to Stearns Beach after receiving reports of several people struggling in the water. 

Ludington police say two boys, ages 7 and 10, were rescued from the water by four people who were walking near the north breakwater. 

Off-duty Paw Paw police officer Eric Rottman [pictured above] was at the beach and jumped in to rescue the boys, along with Chelsea Rottman, Frank Schwartz, and Megan Styf. 

The mother of the two boys, a 39-year-old Hudsonville woman, was also rescued after she went into the water to get the boys. 

The woman was taken to a local hospital to be treated for her injuries and has since been released. 

No other injuries were reported. 

"The Ludington Police Department would like to remind residents and visitors about the hazards associated with swimming near breakwater structures and the importance of observing the no swimming area boundaries," said Ludington police. "It is especially dangerous to swim next to breakwater structures during rough conditions." [END]

TV 9 & 10 News interviewed Rottman and another heroic kiteboarder left out of most recounts of that day:

“My sister in law was able to throw off some life preservers for her that belonged to her children,” Rottman said. “So I was able to get one of those underneath the mom’s arm, gave one to the child that was still hanging onto her.”

But the mom had to be carried since she was exhausted from fighting the rip currents.

“I look back and the oldest child had swam back to the pier, I believe, trying to help mom some more,” Rottman said.

Meanwhile, kiteboarder Frank Schwartz just happened to be walking by.

“I turned around and I saw a number of people in distress in the water,” Schwartz said

Schwartz said he took off his kiteboarding gear and jumped in.

“I went into the water, got about waist deep and the riptide just grabbed me and sucked me out there. And which was a good thing because it brought me close to this young lad,” he said.

Schwartz said he grabbed the kid and instructed him how to kick toward people on the pier with a flotation ring connected with a cord.

“We kicked toward the ring. I attached him and the folks up on the pier walked them back to safety. Soon as I let go of them, I continued to get dragged out, never in danger because I had a life vest,” Schwartz said. 

This incident reminds us of the value of lifeguards at the beach in 2023.  Had conditions been a little worse, our heroic visitors Rottman and Schwartz could have been additional victims of Lake Michigan, much like Anthony Goldsmith back in 2010.  Lifeguards could not only be equipped with life vests like Schwartz was on Monday, they could have a variety of rescue equipment immediately available in order to make quick rescues.  

Where were the Stearn's Park Rangers during this incident?  Rescuing swimmers is not part of their job description, nor are they necessarily trained to do so.  They may even be penalized in getting chosen for the position, because our geniuses at city hall think it would be a liability.  They probably are trained to fear doing rescue attempts because they are worried that it would make the City liable if they fail.  

But that's not true, recent court rulings in Michigan indicate that lifeguards are protected with the same governmental immunity afforded to police and firefighters.  They would have to do something very negligent to not have a trial court dismiss any claims against them.  

The recent incarnation of parking fees at Stearns Beach shows that it's a dead issue, so why have a bunch of park patrol wandering around looking for some code issue to enforce in the parking lots and enraging a lot of tourists and locals, when you can have lifeguards protecting our visitors and otherwise making good memories on Ludington beaches.  Instead of the memories Mr. Goldsmith's family has to endure 13 years later.  

Views: 21

© 2024   Created by XLFD.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service