PLYMOUTH, Minn. - Susan Grundeen marched a dozen charges through ankle-deep, then knee-deep water at Clifton French Regional Park. Grundeen is the Beach Safety Coordinator for the Three Rivers Park District.
Grundeen instructed the park staffers to lock arms and move methodically through the waves as a way to check for a missing swimmer. It is the same technique used by beach goers to search for a 16-year-old girl who disappeared under the waves at Cedar Lake Beach in Minneapolis on Sunday. The girl was located later by rescuers who responded from local official agencies. She died Monday afternoon at Hennepin County Medical Center.
Minnesota has seen an unfortunate boom in drownings in 2012. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reported that there have been 20 such mishaps. That compares to just ten at the same time in 2011 and eight in 2010. Nine of the drownings this year occurred in just May and June. DNR officials believe that is because of the warmer weather, earlier than usual this year.
Oddly, in this time of job-challenged young people, Minneapolis has experienced difficulty in finding enough qualified lifeguards. "We are down this year," said Dawn Sommers, spokesperson for the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board. "We are still looking for lifeguards. We would like 35. Our goal is 35. We are in the low 20s and still interviewing."
Sommers said that her staff thinks the growing prevalence of indoor water parks and other facilities make it possible for lifeguards to find work year-round rather than just in the summer months on outdoor beaches.
Candidates for Minneapolis lifeguard positions are urged to check the Minneapolis parks website.
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