Coast Guard responds to distressed kayakers in Lake Michigan

U.S. Coast Guard 25 Foot Response Boast-Small File Photo

U.S. Coast Guard file photo

CHICAGO — The Coast Guard responded to two kayakers in distress in Lake Michigan near Jacksonport, Wisconsin, Friday.

At approximately 11:30 a.m., CDT, Coast Guard Station Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, was notified by the Sturgeon Bay Fire Department of two men who had fallen from their kayaks into the water near Cave Point County Park, about one-half mile offshore.

The Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan Command Center in Milwaukee issued an urgent marine information broadcast and directed the launch of Station Sturgeon Bay boat crews to locate the kayakers.

At about noon, a Coast Guard crew arrived on scene aboard a 25-foot response boat and transferred the two individuals, who had been recovered by the Sturgeon Bay Fire boat crew. The two victims were unresponsive and CPR was administered by the Coast Guard crew as they transited towards shore. To effect the quickest rescue, the Coast Guard boat maneuvered onto the beach at Cave Point and transferred the victims to awaiting emergency responders.

Both men were later pronounced deceased at a local hospital.

This incident serves as a stark reminder of the dangers of Lake Michigan. The Coast Guard strongly urges mariners to remember:

  • Always wear a lifejacket. A life jacket can keep you afloat and dramatically increase your chances of survival if you fall in. It also allows a person to float with a minimum of energy expended and allows the person to assume the Heat Escape Lessening Position (H.E.L.P.) – bringing the knees close to the chest and holding them in place by wrapping the arms around the shin portions of the legs.
  • Dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature. The water temperature remains dangerously low. Cold water drains a body’s heat dramatically faster than cold air.
  • Great Lakes weather is unpredictable and dangerous, especially during seasonal transitions. Always check and monitor the marine weather forecast before any trip out onto the lake
  • Carry all required and recommended safety gear, such as visual distress signals and a sound producing device. Carry visual distress signals and a quality whistle in the pockets of the life jacket being worn so it’s close at hand in an emergency.
  • The Coast Guard recommends carrying a registered Personal Locator Beacon in addition to a VHF-FM marine radio, to alert the Coast Guard and local safety agencies of potential distress. Consider a waterproof hand-held model that you can keep with you.
  • Always notify family and friends where you are going and when you expect to be back – and stick to the plan. If plans unexpectedly change, notify them immediately

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