drowning rescue

Rescuers work at the scene of a water emergency Friday evening at Eichelman Park beach. The man pulled from the water later died.

A man who drowned in Lake Michigan off the beach at Eichelman Park Friday was identified as 32-year-old Christopher Franklin of Kenosha.

According to Kenosha Police, Franklin had moved recently to Kenosha from Illinois. He had been at the park with a family member when he drowned.

Lt. James Beller said a witness told police he saw Franklin swimming and that he did not appear to be in distress before he disappeared in the water.

Police and the Kenosha Fire Department were called to the beach at about 6:30 p.m. Friday for a water emergency. Members of the fire department found Franklin about 25 feet from shore in 6 feet of water.

Kenosha Fire Chief Charles Leipzig said rescue crews raced across the park to reach the water and were able to find Franklin quickly. “They had him out within two minutes,” he said. With that speed they were hopeful they could save him. “It was the best odds for recovery, but it wasn’t meant to be,” Leipzig said.

Firefighters performed CPR, and Franklin was taken to Froedtert Kenosha Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Eichelman Park and the beach were busy Friday at the time of the drowning as Kenosha families sought relief from 90-degree temperatures. There were families gathered under the shade of trees and many people in the water.

The beach, sheltered by a breakwater, is a popular swimming spot. The beach is not known for strong currents and is not one of the areas where life ring kiosks were installed.

There has been a new focus on water safety in the community over the last year, with safety equipment installed in areas where rip currents are common.

In addition, education programs have been created in partnership with the Kenosha YMCA, the city, police and fire departments and Kenosha Unified School District.

These efforts followed a deadly season on Kenosha’s Lake Michigan shore last year when four people died — two in drownings near the Pike River, one in Kenosha harbor and a teenage boy off the North Pier.

The National Weather Service issued a warning Monday about large waves and strong currents, making for dangerous swimming conditions.

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