The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, July 24, 2019 1:00 am

State on high pace for drownings

34 this year; 53 total in 2018

NIKI KELLY | The Journal Gazette

INDIANAPOLIS – Twice during the past weekend, Hoosiers were pulled out of lakes and later died – bringing the state's total drowning deaths in public waterways this year to 34.

“We're a little bit higher than last year at this time,” said Capt. Jet Quillen, of the Department of Natural Resources' Law Enforcement Division. “We will see them drop off in September. The boating season is the big busy time on the water – from Memorial Day to Labor Day.”

Last year, there were 53 drownings in the state.

The latest drowning was 25-year-old Christian Rosete of Michigan City, who was pulled from Lake Michigan near Washington Park Beach on Saturday and later died at Franciscan Health Hospital in Michigan City. Rosete was swimming with family when he was overcome by waves and did not resurface.

The drownings have occurred in rivers, ponds, lakes and reservoirs. The numbers don't include deaths at private pools.

Quillen said the drownings have one thing in common – those who die aren't wearing life jackets.

“We understand they can be hot and bulky, but life jackets save lives,” he said. “The dangers of water are underestimated.”

Newer life jackets are stylish and lightweight; Quillen said officers wear them on patrol for hours and don't even notice them.

Northeast Indiana has had its share of drownings this year.

Earlier this month, a wakesurfer drowned in Clear Lake after a boating accident. John Adams, 20, of Lake Forest, Illinois, was recovered about 55 feet below the surface.

In June, 3-year-old Jackson Harrell died of accidental drowning in Lake Arrowhead – just outside Angola.

Other than the absence of life jackets, Quillen said there are no real similarities in drownings. He said many victims do know how to swim.

Here are some basic safety tips the Indiana DNR recommends when around water:

- Always wear your life jacket

- Always tell someone where you are going and when you will return

- Go with a buddy

- Never venture around flooded or fast moving waterways

- Avoid alcohol

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