Beach Hazard in effect for Lake Michigan Tuesday after 3 boys drown over weekend

WHITING, Ind. (WLS) -- Swimmers were warned to stay out of the water in some areas of Lake Michigan again on Tuesday.

A beach hazard statement was put in place at about 1 p.m., with the National Weather Service warning of life-threatening swimming conditions, particularly in Northwest Indiana.

As if on cue, surfers like Jim Hoop began showing up at Indiana's Whiting Beach.

"If you don't know how to swim or do this, it's absolutely not the time. Especially the lake," Hoop said. "It's nonstop. It's not like the ocean where there is a lull in the wave. Here the wave is breaking every moment so it will suck you right out and down faster than you can expect."
The warnings come after three boys died this weekend after they were pulled from Lake Michigan in separate incidents. Two of the boys were Joshua Torres, 10, of Chicago, and Malik Freeman, 14, of Aurora, who were swimming in restricted areas at the same Indiana Dunes State Park beach.

RELATED: 3 boys, ages 10 to 14, die after being pulled from Lake Michigan at Indiana, Waukegan beaches

According to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, 22 people have drowned in Lake Michigan so far this year. One more is still missing.

"Part of it is the perception that it's just a lake," said Dave Benjamim, of the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project. "There are a lot of vacationers. A lot of public beaches don't have lifeguards and there isn't public education to support it."

Benjamin said people should stay out of Lake Michigan when conditions are dangerous. But even when they're not, beachgoers need to be educated when it comes to water safety.

"In our presentations we start with a survey," he said. "Over 90% know how to swim. How many know what to do if your clothes catch fire? 100% know 'Stop, drop and roll.' What do you do if you're drowning? Less than 5% know a drowning survival strategy."
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