Dangers to be Aware of After Lake Erie Tragedies

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CLEVELAND-- It was a deadly weekend on Lake Erie. Two people died as they tried to save young people in the water.

The first incident happened Saturday, around 4:30 p.m.

Cleveland firefighters tell FOX 8, Traveno Sledge, 24, of Euclid jumped into Lake Erie at Euclid Beach Park. They said a boy, 10, was in distress so he raced to help. Sadly, firefighters said he never made it out. His body was recovered at 5:38p.m.

"Maybe they need to get more lifeguards out here because they need to help these people out here swim, especially these little kids," said Greg Taylor, who was upset to hear about the drowning.

"There's no security out here. There are no lifeguards out here. It's not safe
to be out there. I think it should be roped off," said Kurt Thompson, who frequents Euclid Beach Park.

Situations like Saturday's are tragedies that Cleveland Metroparks workers want to avoid. They are preparing for a busy Labor Day weekend, with plenty of swimmers at local beaches.

"Especially on the lake, there are some hidden dangers," said Christy Szoke, with the Cleveland Metroparks.

Szoke is the Aquatics Facilities Manager with the Metroparks. She tells FOX 8 that someone can be a drowning victim in just 20 seconds.

"They are not going to be calling for help. They aren't going to be flailing their arms. It's usually silent and quick," Szoke said.

If you see someone in the water in distress, it might be your first instinct to jump in, but Szoke says that might not be the best idea, especially if you don't know how deep the water is around you.

"One rule of thumb is reach or throw; don't go," Szoke said.  "If you have a stick a branch a cooler, bottle of pop, use that," she went on.

Szoke said drowning tragedies are difficult, especially because so many people feel the need to help.

It was a hectic scene at the marina near E. 72nd St., Sunday night.

"It appears that a 12-year-old boy jumped in from the bridge into the water
and the mother was on the other side of the rocks and saw him. She jumped in the water to go after him," said Assistant Cleveland Fire Chief, Brent Collins.

Two others jumped in the lake to help as well.

Jonathan Davis, 29, of South Euclid never came back up, according to firefighters.

Efraim Mantilla dove in too. He was heartbroken after the tragedy. "Obviously it was not enough. I see another person just die," Mantilla said.

Both children involved in the water rescues over the weekend were taken to UH's Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital. They are expected to make it.