Firefighters in Duluth rescued a teenager who got caught in a rip current while swimming in Lake Superior over the weekend.
Four teenagers were swimming off Park Point when they got pulled deeper into Lake Superior by a rip current around 6:43 p.m. on Saturday, June 5, the Duluth Fire Department said in a news release.
Two teenage girls got out of the lake on their own and were back on the beach, while two teenage boys were swept into the current and were struggling.
One of the boys was attempting to help the other boy but they were separated by the current and large waves. The boy who was trying to help had drifted further out into the lake, while the other boy got back to shore and was being treated at the scene.
When rescuers got to the teenager, he was already 350 feet from shore. The Duluth Fire Department used Marine 19, with a crew member dressed in a cold-water suit jumping into the lake to rescue the swimmer.
“These situations can come up quickly, and are scary for all who are involved,” Assistant Chief Dennis Edwards said in a news release. “There is no doubt in my mind that they saved this young man’s life today, and in turn, he probably saved his friend’s life by helping to keep him above water for as long as he could.”
The Duluth Fire Department is reminding people that conditions on Lake Superior can change quickly and that people should pay attention to water conditions and currents when they're at the beach, noting there wasn't a red flag warning (a rip current warning) in effect at the time.
“The conditions could be fantastic one minute here and change drastically the next,” Captain Kevin Haney told WDIO on Sunday. “As we saw yesterday, we had a big switch in the winds and the waves picked up which brought in rip currents and a couple of individuals got trapped in them."
Rip currents are strong, narrow channels of water that flow away from shore. They can pull even the strongest swimmers far from shore, NOAA says. Rip currents often develop because of high wind, larger waves, shoreline structures (piers), and weather phenomena.
According to the National Weather Service, there have been 22 current-related incidents off the shores of St. Louis County since 2002, including 19 rescues and three deaths.
There's a Park Point Beach website that has information about swim hazard risk and other details for swimmers.