Man rescued after falling off pier

September 6, 2018

MICHIGAN CITY — A man who fell off the pier in Washington Park onto the rocks on Sunday was pulled from the water by lifeguards and taken to a hospital in stable condition.

The Michigan City Fire Department and La Porte County EMS were called to the park just after 4 p.m. on Sunday.

“An elderly man fell off the wall onto the rocks near the lighthouse,” a Fire Department report said.

When firefighters arrived, lifeguards had the man out of the water on a board, and firefighters assisted in carrying him over the wall and back to the beach, the report said.

“We heard a call come over the scanner that a man had fallen off the pier and hit his head,” Michigan City Parks Superintendent Jeremy Kienitz said. “Three of our lifeguards responded and were able to get to him and put him on a backboard to safely transport him to EMS once they arrived.”

The man was conscious when he was rescued, Kienitz said.

“I do know that he had a cut on his head and was complaining about pain in his left shoulder and arm, and his left leg. Once we transported him to EMS, they handled it from there,” he said.

La Porte County EMS director Andrew McGuire said “it was a fall onto the rocks from the pier. The subject was still on the rocks upon our arrival. He was transported in stable condition” to Franciscan Health Michigan City.

The man was fortunate because Sunday was one of the last days lifeguards were on duty this season. Since mid-August, lifeguards have only been on duty on weekends, and the three-day holiday season was the final weekend the beach will be guarded.

Overall it was a deadly weekend on the Great Lakes, with at least a dozen drownings reported, three in Lake Michigan.

“This was the deadliest Labor Day Weekend since we started tracking statistics in 2010,” said Dave Benjamin, executive director of the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project. “And the worst part of this weekend are the people on social media abusing the stigma of drowning and attacking the victims and their family members.”

The Lake Michigan victims, all of whom drowned on Friday, were a 25-year-old woman and a 30-year-old man in Chicago; and a woman in her 60s in Kenosha, Wisconsin. There were four drownings in Lake Erie and four more in Lake Superior, where a father and three children – ages 3, 5 and 9 – drowned when their kayak overturned near Madeline Island off Bayfield, Wisconsin. A 12th drowning was reported on Lake Ontario.

“Unfortunately this societal point of view gives the public the false sense of security that ‘It can’t happen to me,’ and ‘It can’t happen to me because I wouldn’t be that stupid,’ and ‘You can’t fix stupid,’ Benjamin said.

“ ‘I didn’t know...’ is the number one thing that we hear from family and friends of victims after a tragic event. Water safety is not common sense, yet most people assume it is common sense and that is one of the reasons why drowning continues to be a neglected public health issue.”

As of Tuesday, the GLSRP had confirmed 91 drownings in the Great Lakes this year, including 31 on Lake Michigan. That is the highest number for any year since 2010, except 2012 and 2016, when there were 99 for the entire year. Since 2010, the project has reported 710 drownings on the five lakes, 291 in Lake Michigan.

—From staff reports

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