Lifeguards save life of teen in Jet Ski crash at Whiting beach

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The fast actions of two lifeguards are credited with saving the life of a teen who was badly injured in a crash on Lake Michigan near Whiting, Indiana, Wednesday. (WLS)

The fast actions of two lifeguards are credited with saving the life of a teen who was badly injured in a crash on Lake Michigan near Whiting, Indiana, Wednesday.

Whiting Indiana lifeguards Michael Perich and Jill Murray have both saved swimmers from drowning, but never have the lifeguards experienced a serious Jet Ski accident until yesterday at Whilhala Beach.

"It was really fast paced, my heart was rushing, it was an experience I'll never forget," said Perich.

While guarding his portion of the beach, Perich, 18, saw one Jet Ski crash into another, sending a 17-year-old boy into the air and then into the water.

"I'd seen the boy unconscious in the water face down, so I'd radioed into the guard house; we have an emergency action plan. I dropped my stuff, took off my shirt and headed into the water," he said.

The lifeguard swam about 50 feet out and brought the victim to shore. He noticed a cut on the victim's face and blood coming out of the boy's mouth.

"I rolled him over on his side so I can have the blood fallout of his mouth, I didn't want him choking on it," said Perich.

Jill Murray, 17, ran down the beach with her medical kit to assist Perich until an ambulance arrived.

"I gave Michael gloves and gauze so he could start caring for the cut, while I took in-line stabilization because there was a suspected spinal injury due to collision," she said.

The victim was eventually brought back to consciousness. The Whiting lifeguards credit their supervisor, who is a trained EMT, for giving the Whihala Beach lifeguards extra medical training.

"When they come through in a situation like they did, it almost brings tears to your eyes, how proud you are," said Nick Kalwinski, Whihala Beach Supervisor.
Kalwinki says Wednesday's accident is the first Jet Ski accident he can remember in Whiting. The victim was airlifted to University of Chicago Hospital in critical condition, where he underwent surgery for a head injury. The driver of the other Jet Ski was not injured. The crash is under investigation.
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