Avon Lake discusses safety options after second drowning

8:19 PM, Aug 14, 2012   |    comments
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AVON LAKE - City leaders will have new discussions about the safety at a popular beach after a second drowning this summer.

Police say it appears 34-year-old Michael Foreman drowned while swimming Monday evening.

"I was hoping to find his footprints," said Linda Quinn.

Quinn came to Miller Road Beach Tuesday in memory of her close friend. She says after Foreman dropped her off for work Monday, he went for a ride in his Porsche.

"He swam every day. He was an avid swimmer. Must have been really bad currents," she said.

Quinn says she knows Foreman often swam in Lake Erie at Huntington Beach, but didn't know whether he would be familiar with the water at Miller Road Beach.

Police say Foreman was swimming in a designated area, not near the "Cut" as it's called - a place actually on the GenCo plant's property where its discharge creates a warm water, but also a powerful outflow.

That's what typically gets swimmers and anglers in trouble.

At least eight people have died there in the past 15 years. In July, a 23-year-old man from Trumbull County died while fishing.

"If you don't know the potential dangers, it can be very treacherous,""said Avon Lake Mayor Greg Zilka.

Zilka says the city has worked with GenCo, whose nearby plant property is also used as beachfront, and the state, to help increase awareness about the beach's dangers.

"To close this area off, would be really unfortunate. But we have to weigh that with the loss of people," said Zilka. "But the end result is will this area be safer if we make it a no swimming area, knowing that people are going to be attracted to it?"

Zilka said the beach was closed to swimmers years ago, and unfortunately it didn't stop tragedy from occurring. In fact, Zilka says people would scale fences and rock walls to make their way to the water.

"We're going to look at all options and certainly closing the beach is one of them. But based on our past history, that doesn't seem to be a solution," he said.

Karla Olsen, a spokesperson for GenCo, says offduty officers are patrolling the plant's property from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. each night. They help keep beachgoers out of dangerous areas. The city does not employ lifeguards at Miller Road Beach.

Zilka says a representative from the Governor's Office toured the park last Friday, in an effort to bring the state's attention to the dangers.

Zilka is also working with state Representative Matt Lundy with the hopes that ODNR, who controls the water off the beach, will designate a no boating area just off the shore, keeping fisherman out of the area as well.

This summer new signs show where is generally safe to swim, but park officials stress that Lake Erie conditions can change in an instant.

Quinn saw the signs right away.

"As soon as we walked up it says swim at your own risk. Dangerous currents and a big dropoff. I don't know if he saw that," she said.


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