MICHIGAN CITY – A pair of boaters escaped injury after their boat ran into the Washington Park pier on Saturday night and they were rescued by a Coast Guard crew and Michigan City firefighters.
The Michigan City Fire Department received a 911 call about 11:45 p.m. Saturday reporting that a small craft, which may have been a jet ski, had crashed into the breakwall near the lighthouse at a high rate of speed, according to an MCFD report.
The caller said the craft had flipped over and the operator had not resurfaced.
A fire captain and two divers arrived at the scene and were picked up at the pier by a U.S. Coast Guard boat, the report said. They soon located a small boat along the breakwall with two people aboard.
According to Petty Officer 2nd Class Lauren Steenson of the U.S. Coast Guard 9th District Great Lakes, the Michigan City Coast Guard Station received a call from La Porte County Dispatch that a "pleasure craft had struck the pier."
Two people were thrown into the water, according to the Coast Guard report, but were able to swim safely to the breakwall, Steenson said.
"The Michigan City response crew reported no injuries and no pollution from the crash, and both people were safely taken on board," she said.
Firefighters asked the boaters if they were injured and if anyone else was still in the water, but they said they were the only ones aboard and were not hurt, according to the MCFD report.
Coast Guard crew members threw a rope to the smaller craft to pull it off the wall, the report said.
After the boat was secured to the side of the Coast Guard vessel, and the boaters brought aboard the larger craft, they were again asked about injuries, but refused medical treatment from a waiting La Porte County EMS crew, according to the fire department.
Steenson said the boat was then towed to the Coast Guard pier.
The boaters were fortunate not to become a statistic, according to Dave Benjamin of the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project.
"With the latest Great Lakes drowning" – on Aug. 5 in Cudahy, Wisconsin – "Lake Michigan drownings are up 61 percent over this date last year," Benjamin said.
"On this date in 2018 [Aug. 6], there were 18 Lake Michigan drownings. Today in 2019, there have been 29 Lake Michigan drownings so far."
At least one of those incidents involved a boat crash, and three others involved people who had been on a boat before falling into the water, according to the GLSRP