First responders in Mason County were barely able to regroup and rest between incidents with three drownings in Lake Michigan over just an eight day period.
The community stepped up their support of police efforts and the sheriff is thankful.
“It’s difficult for everybody,” says Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole.
A lot goes into a search and rescue mission on Lake Michigan and the mental and emotional toll increases when it drags on and a life is lost.
“Anytime you have to leave the scene and then come back, that weighs heavy on the hearts and minds of all the responders,” says Cole.
For Mason County first responders they were hit three times in a week’s time. It seemed like right after one mission wrapped up, another came in.
“Between the two drownings we had at Ludington State Park we hadn’t even gas star boats up,” says Cole, “There is a financial burden on it but we don’t really worry about the financial side of it.”
This weekend Sheriff Cole took to Facebook to thank the community in their support and the internet responded in kind.
“That really wasn’t the intent when the post went out and it was just a thank you,” says Cole, “So many people came up and gave us stuff, food and supplies. You could see in their eyes they were just hurting.”
Sheriff Cole says he always looks for the positive to come out of tragedies like these and says in just the last few days he’s seen a difference in swimmers taking notice of the red flag warnings, the current of the river and the power of Lake Michigan. They can finish off this summer without any more incidents like this.
“If we can take something positive out of this bad situation we certainly want to do that,” says Cole.
Cole also hopes this week shows their need for more resources, to improve response time and save some of these accidents from becoming tragedies.
“Hopefully we can get some assistance in Northern Michigan,” says Cole, “I think we’re often overlooked at a federal level and that’s unfortunate.”