Coast Guard units throughout the Great Lakes reported their busiest Independence Day weekend in at least five years Sunday, conducting more than 100 search-and-rescue cases and saving or assisting more than 300 people throughout the region.
Despite those successes, at least two lives were also lost on the lakes during that time period, which stretched from July 3-5.
Cases ranged from boat collisions to capsizings and sinkings. The incidents also included two swimmers who were found clinging to the breakwater at the Coast Guard’s small boat station in Port Huron, Mich. Both were assisted from the water by the Coast Guard crewman who spotted them.
Karl Willis, a search and rescue specialist at the Coast Guard’s Ninth District Headquarters in Cleveland, said that over the weekend Coast Guard crews in the Great Lakes:
Anecdotally, he added, the Coast Guard is approximately 200 search-and-rescue cases ahead of last year’s pace, and about 60 cases over the five-year average.
Mariners can help prevent boating accidents by filing float plans, always boating sober, and making sure their vessels and all associated safety equipment are well maintained. Be sure to have a working marine-band VHF radio aboard — they’re the best method of communication during an emergency. And always wear your life jacket. Those ideas and many more are gathered on the Coast Guard’s safe boating website at uscgboating.org.