MILWAUKEE, Wisc. – Following an incident in Frankfort, Mich., Sunday morning, the Coast Guard is urging the public to stay off breakwalls, jetties and low piers as hazardous weather passes through the area.
A crew from Coast Guard Station Frankfort responded when two people were swept off a breakwall due to high wind and waves just before 9 a.m. Sunday.
Benzie County sheriff’s initially reported the incident to the Coast Guard. Weather conditions at the time, waves up to 10 feet and winds up to 30 knots, exceeded operating parameters for Coast Guard boat crews, so a helicopter from Coast Guard Air Facility Muskegon was diverted and a crew from Coast Guard Station Frankfort drove a government vehicle to the breakwall.
Once there, the Frankfort crew discovered that one person was able to self-rescue then threw a life ring to the second person and pulled him to safety.
Weather in eastern Lake Michigan is forecast to remain hazardous throughout the day, making for dangerous conditions on breakwalls, jetties and low piers.
The National Weather Service forecast calls for waves up to 10 feet Sunday morning, decreasing to 7 feet Sunday afternoon and wind up to 30 knots Sunday morning, decreasing to 20 knots by Sunday afternoon.
“Those who wish to observe the high waves on Lake Michigan should do so from a safe location,” said Cmdr. Leanne Lusk, response department head at Sector Lake Michigan. “People who choose to ignore Coast Guard warnings put themselves and first responders in unnecessary danger.”
This comes just one month after two men lost their lives after being swept off a pier head in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, during a weather event July 17, 2016, when the Coast Guard received notice that 10 people had been swept into Lake Michigan by high waves in Wisconsin and Michigan in less than a two-hour period.