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Water safety crucial on Lake Superior, Little Presque Isle

Water safety sounds like such a benign subject, but it is a crucial one to understand considering the region borders Lake Superior, which has its share of undercurrents and weather — and the inherent danger.

This was apparent during two recent incidents at Little Presque Isle. On July 11, 40 swimmers were stranded on the island, but fortunately, rescue attempts were successful.

On Sunday, an adult and two youths were swept into Lake Superior in a strong undercurrent from Little Presque. Again, rescue attempts were successful after a female beachgoer swam out to the three who were drifting away. She got them together and back to shore, while other beachgoers swam out into the lake to give the swimmers life jackets and flotation devices.

In 2018, the Marquette County Sheriff’s Office rescued 37 hikers who became stranded on the island, which is located in Marquette Township. The sheriff’s office had reported that the group mostly was composed of visitors from out of town who walked across the sand bar to get to the island in separate groups. While they were on the island, the winds strengthened, and 3- to 5-foot waves developed, blocking the hikers’ route back to shore.

Not every such incident near Little Presque Isle ends well.

In a more tragic occurrence, a 24-year-old man died in June 2016 while trying to rescue two women near the island. One of the women he attempted to save also died. The incident prompted the construction and installation of lifesaving stations at Little Presque Isle.

Lake Superior is to be respected anywhere, but Little Presque Isle can be particularly dangerous. Conditions can seem OK one minute but soon can change.

It would be easy to just recommend people stay out of the water there, but it’s a beautiful recreation area and some beachgoers might find it hard to keep out of the water. The fact that Little Presque Isle itself is so relatively close to shore can make it hard to resist, but again, a current change can make it difficult to get back to shore safely.

People who go to Little Presque Isle, which has channel currents and coves, should keep aware of the weather and winds, especially northwesterly winds, before entering the water.

If there’s any doubt, stay on the beach and stay safe.

Little Presque Isle and all its beauty can be visited another time when conditions allow.

— The Mining Journal, Marquette

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