Lake Michigan claims the lives of two teen brothers who drowned while swimming in SW Michigan

Aerial view of Lake Michigan and Warren Dunes State Park in Michigan where two brothers drowned while swimming offshore.
Aerial view of Lake Michigan and Warren Dunes State Park in Michigan. Photo credit Better Planet Media/Getty

BERRIEN COUNTY (WWJ) - Authorities said two brothers are dead and two others were rescued after the group of teens went swimming in Lake Michigan at Warren Dunes State Park on Sunday.

Baroda-Lake Township Police Lt. Wesley Koza said via the Detroit Free Press that authorities were called to the scene of swimmers in trouble around 6:15 p.m. on May 15.

Police said the group of swimmers were aged between 15 and 17-years-old and were from South Bend, Indiana.

Koza said the group jumped into the lake to swim, but they soon realized they were in trouble and called out for help. Two bystanders swam out to two of the juveniles and pulled them to safety, but two others — both brothers — slipped under the water and could not be seen.

"We ended up getting out there with our rescue boat, and after approximately 35 minutes, we found both bodies underwater," Koza said.

The brothers were taken to the hospital and where they were pronounced dead; the two others who were rescued are expected to be OK.

While 911 calls regarding swimmers in danger are common in summer, Koza said it is unusual to have drownings in the Great Lakes in May.

"(A drowning is) unusual this early in the year just because you don't have a lot of swimmers because the water temperature is so cold, but we do have water rescues at Warren Dunes State Park during the summer when it's busier," he said to the Detroit Free Press.

Since 2010, there have been over 1,000 drownings in the Great Lakes, as reported by the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project.

There are 12 possible reported drownings so far for 2022, with half occurring in Lake Michigan; the report does not yet include drownings for May.

The GLSP reported that the yearly average of drownings skyrocketed during COVID-19. During the first year of the pandemic in 2020, 37 people died in Lake Michigan. GLSP said the average number of drownings a year is around 26.

Lake Ontario also had a sharp spike in fatal drownings during 2020 with 16 reported deaths. GLSP said the eastern-most Great Lake usually averages around 6 fatal drownings per year.

The two deaths on Sunday come nearly a week after a high school student from Ann Arbor died while jumping off a train trestle and into the Huron River, WXYZ-TV reported.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Better Planet Media/Getty