2 swimmers safe after drifting too far into Lake Erie

Frenchtown Township — Two swimmers returned safe to shore after drifting too far into Lake Erie on Friday afternoon at Sterling State Park, 2800 State Park Road.
The accident was reported about 4 p.m.
Frenchtown Fire Chief Wendy Stevens said the swimmers were two young women, late teens or early 20s, who were on green inflatable rafts but not wearing life jackets.
Lake Erie was relatively calm today; and the park had a “green flag” flying showing the conditions of the water. National Weather Service records for Monroe this afternoon show that the west winds were about 12 miles an hour, gusting to 17 mph, just before a brief shower about that time.
But Stevens said Lake Erie currents can be unpredictable. The two swimmers found themselves in a predicament.
“They couldn’t get back in,” she said.
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Frenchtown Fire Department got its crew and rescue boat to the area. Stevens said Estral Beach, City of Monroe and Monroe Township fire departments also were called to the scene with their rescue boats. It’s standard procedure for Lake Erie rescues in Monroe County to involve more than one area fire department marine unit.
In addition, the Coast Guard was notified of the call and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office came to the scene.
Adding to the frustration of the swimmers was the fact that both inflatables were losing air and deflating. Stevens said one swimmer abandoned her float and tried to join the other on the second float.
Stevens said firefighters were about 20 feet away from the women when the currents pushed them close enough to shore that they could stand and wade back in. The two came ashore by themselves at the north end of the swimming beach.
The firefighters then collected the other raft.
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