4 Drownings in Lake Superior

It’s something we’ve heard about all too often lately — drownings.

Thursday, we had 4 of them in Lake Superior.

Two of them happened in Grand Marais.

The State Police Underwater Recovery Unit has now found the bodies of those two people, with help from the Alger County Dive Team.

Both victims were located within the primary search area, based on witness accounts of the incident.

Divers recovered the victims in approximately 30 feet of water.

50-year-old Douglas Smith’s body was found at about 3 this afternoon.

The body of his son, 16-year-old Eric Smith, was found shortly before 2.

They were both from downstate Oxford, and they disappeared shortly before 6 last night.

The other two drownings took place in Marquette in the afternoon.

The victims are a pair of teenagers — 16-year-old Alex Schuiteman of Felch and 15-year-old Elias Jenkins of Berkley, Illinois.

BM2 Christopher Connolly of U.S. Coast Guard Station Marquette was one of the rescuers who responded.

He says the two were less than 100 yards from shore off of Presque Isle when they went under.

And that’s a sign that it doesn’t take much in the water for something to go very wrong.

BM2 Connolly says anytime there’s a north wind, the waves in that area reach up to 5 feet, and the surf may have been beyond the two teens’ swimming capabilities.

The Marquette Fire Department is also making sure swimmers don’t bite off more than they can chew.

Firefighters were at Picnic Rocks today, digging a pit that one of the 20-foot flagpoles for the flag warning system will be placed in.

Lt. Dan Dagenais says the flagpoles should be up by August 15th.

But once the flags are up, whose responsibility will it be to check the water conditions and change the flags based on them?

Lt. Dagenais says that’s still being worked out — he’s not sure if it’ll be lifeguards, police, firefighters or some combination of all three, but he’s confident it’ll be taken care of.

Schuiteman and Jenkins join Rod Nilsestuen as Marquette’s most recent victims.

Nilsestuen, the Wisconsin Secretary of Agriculture, drowned off Picnic Rocks two weeks ago.

The city has now seen seven drownings since 2005 — an average of more than one per year.

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