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Local Experts Hope Water Safety Workshop Avoids More Lake Deaths

City rescuers and health care professionals converged on Loyola Park Beach Monday night for a safety workshop to benefit any and every level of swimmer and boater in the area--given that 27 deaths have already been reported this year in Lake Michigan.

"Drowning is (a) pubic health issue and a neglected public health issue," said Dave Benjamin of the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project.

Local experts brought their knowledge and tools in hopes of educating those residents using the 27 miles of Lake Michigan beaches and 38 miles of the Chicago River.

"With high lake levels, lot of obstruction that were previously visible are now submerged or slightly submerged," said Wally Gorzen from the Chicago Fire Department.

With the largest harbor system in the U.S., marine units and rescuers are busy.

Gorzen says boaters should familiarize themselwves with the lakefront and use charts--digitally and/or on paper.

Experts stressed the importance of knowing what drowning looks like because it typically takes less than 60 seconds before final submersion.

Benjamin explained that someone who is drowning, usually has their mouth at water level, with their head tilted back and their "body doing a climbing-the-ladder motion," he explained.

A local family is looking for 30-year-old Arthur Labinjo, who was last reportedly seen late Saturday afternoon boat- hopping.

Labinjo has several tatoos on his chest and triceps and his loved ones say they have his cell phone and identification.

Although the family says he knows how to swim, officials say that most Chicagoans, up to 70 percent, don’t .

"Don't be overconfident in your skills, especially in open water," said Chicago Police Department Marine Unit Officer Ark Pachnik.

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