BLASDELL, N.Y. (WIVB) – Following a drowning at Wendt Beach Thursday night, Erie County officials and first responders hope that now, more than ever, people pay attention to no swimming signs.
They say not swimming where it isn’t allowed is one away to avoid tragedy. Due to water conditions and winds upward of 25 knots, there was no swimming at Woodlawn Beach Saturday.
Two years ago, swimming was banned altogether at Wendt Beach, where the drowning occurred.
“Thank God. I don’t know why but he chose to make us both live because I really thought I was done. I really did,” Lt. Bradley DeMartino of the Evans Police Department said.
DeMartino was one of the officers who responded to three people in distress at Wendt Beach Thursday night.
He didn’t think twice before jumping into the choppy waters of Lake Erie to save an 11-year-old girl when she and her friend got swept away by the waves.
The girl’s friend made it safely to shore on her own but, DeMartino was shocked at how long the 11-year-old held on.
“I cannot believe that she even survived since the moment I saw her to the moment I got to her which took probably about 7 minutes for me to get to her,” said DeMartino.
DeMartino said he had never seen the water that choppy or the waves that high, “I can’t remember waves that were so powerful. Pounding down into the shore like that.”
The girl’s mother, 51-year-old Mary Creighton of Buffalo drown while trying to save her daughter.
Demartino says Creighton is the real hero and believes her efforts may have kept the two young girls alive.
Erie County officials say, the tragedy could have been avoided. Wendt Beach doesn’t allow swimming but, Bennet Beach just down the road does.
“We fully anticipate that people are going to visit us. The only thing we’re asking is that certainly in that part of Erie County where we have two county facilities, Wendt and Bennet so close, is go the extra half mile,” DeMartino said.
Thursday’s drowning marks the ninth drowning death in Lake Erie this year. Both young girls are now recovering.