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Posted on Sun, Jul 21, 2013 : 8:13 p.m.

Ypsilanti teenager drowns in Lake Michigan

By Staff


Authorities make their way to the beach after the search for the 15-year-old Ypsilanti girl is called for the night at Pere Marquette on July 19, 2013.

Natalie Kolb |

A teenager who drowned in Lake Michigan on Friday has been identified by police as Raybeon Jenkins of Ypsilanti.

The girl - 15 and known as Rochelle - disappeared beneath the waves of Lake Michigan at Pere Marquette Beach around 7:30 p.m. on Friday while swimming with her 14-year-old sister and two cousins, according to a report on

From an earlier MLive story:

According to the 14-year-old, the two were swimming about 50 yards from shore when the current began to pull both of them farther out into the lake.

The 14-year-old said they both began to struggle and began grabbing onto each other before they were separated. She added that while she was struggling to stay above the waves she lost sight of her sister. The 14-year-old said she was pulled out of the water by a woman she described as being in her mid-20s.

The 14-year-old said that neither she nor her sister is a strong swimmer.


Family and friends of Raybeon Jenkins are comforted while officials search for the teen at Pere Marquette Park beach.

Natalie Kolb |

Authorities suspended the search at 10:45 p.m. Friday due to strong currents and choppy water conditions.

Police resumed their efforts Saturday morning and again Sunday using three boats with side-scan sonar technology, said Muskegon County Sheriff’s Deputy Todd Dunham, who is head of the marine division.

The search team consisted of boats, divers, helicopters and other first-responders linked by tether from various local departments including the Muskegon Fire Department, Muskegon County Sheriff’s Department and the United States Coast Guard.

The teen's body was recovered Sunday afternoon, when police released her name.



Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 9:04 p.m.

This is such a tragedy. I send my condolences to the families of these two girls. Having said that, I feel I should point out that Lake Michigan is a very dangerous to swim, unless you are a VERY competent swimmer. If you ever find yourself being pulled by a strong current away from shore, this is what you do: Do NOT fight the current! Swim parallel to the shore angling slowly toward the shore. I mean a very long, slow angle. This can save your life. Again. I feel for these victims and their families. I don't want it to seem as if I am "blaming the victim." They simply did not know how to swim in this Lake. The currents and weather can change on a dime.


Mon, Jul 22, 2013 : 1:38 p.m.

No mentioning of a Pere Marquette Beach lifeguard or not.


Mon, Jul 22, 2013 : 1:25 p.m.

@ Nicholas Urfe, re: "Popular Science and Popular Mechanics have always had stupid articles that oversell and gloss over the real world." That may well be, but this was one article that, after one read, prepared me for a lifetime of being relaxed, unafraid, and never out of breath, no matter what body of water I am in. Although I haven't been swimming in Lake Michigan all that much in the last couple of decades, I've spent a LOT of time swimming in Lake Superior, which can get up to some interesting antics. Rip currents might keep me offshore for a while, maybe take me a quarter/half-mile down the shore, but having the tools to stay calm and relaxed is the key. I wish that swimming courses were mandatory in a state with so much water.


Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 9:21 p.m.

Don't get too comfortable while swimming in the Great Lakes. Some fear is not a bad thing. But drown-proofing does NOT work. It was debunked many years ago. I find open water swims in the ocean to be easier than swimming in Lake Michigan, as the Great Lakes are VERY moody! Please take care!


Mon, Jul 22, 2013 : 4:16 p.m.

Your comments were very interesting and appreciated, hmsp. One person's opinion of a periodical, doesn't make the information you received any less valid. Thanks for posting it.

John Counts

Mon, Jul 22, 2013 : 1:25 p.m.

We are trying to learn what we can about Raybeon Rochelle Jenkins for a follow-up story. If you knew her, please give me a call at 734-623-2564 or email me at


Mon, Jul 22, 2013 : 12:19 p.m.

We vacation on Lake Michigan every year and we always say how good we have it here - compared to an ocean, there's really nothing that can attack you in a lake and it's not saltwater. That being said, the thing Lake Michigan does have in common with an ocean is the strength of it's current. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family during this extremely difficult time.

Sam S Smith

Mon, Jul 22, 2013 : 12:11 p.m.

Special thoughts and prayers for this young man, his family and friends!


Mon, Jul 22, 2013 : noon

So very tragic. My sympathy to the family. I noticed there were warnings posted for the beaches along Lake Michigan near Holland over the weekend. Seems that area is often prone to high surf and dangerous currents.


Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 9:17 p.m.

I swam in a long distance race up in Harbor Spring last summer. It was a windy day...There were whitecaps, currents...cross currents and very rough water. It was a very tough swim. All of Lake Michigan is prone to high surf and dangerous currents.

greg s

Mon, Jul 22, 2013 : 10:27 a.m.

Sorry for the family's loss, heartbreaking :-(


Mon, Jul 22, 2013 : 5:18 a.m.

How terribly sad this is. Be careful out there, people. We've had more than enough drownings this summer.


Mon, Jul 22, 2013 : 3:28 a.m.

This is one reason I was so disappointed to see the swimming pools close in so many schools. Knowing how to swim and being a strong swimmer can save lives. All children should be taught to swim. I understand that a lot of families don't have access to a pool. That's why the school pools were so important. I hope the school board reconsiders and realizes that swimming isn't a luxury, it's a necessity. My condolences to the friends and family of Raybeon.


Mon, Jul 22, 2013 : 3:12 a.m.

I remember as a kid reading in (I think) Popular Science, back in the early 60s, about a technique called Drownproofing, designed for non-swimmers, as I recall. Reading about it just once, at a young age, it has stayed with me for all of this time, and I have told/taught many others about it. The basic concept is to grab some air into your lungs, then bow your head and hold your breath. Most folks will then float with the back of their shoulders, and the back of their heads, at water level. From that position, simply straightening one's body will bring the head above the water for another breath. If you are extremely dense (lean build, with high muscle mass, low fat), you might have to kick/flail once, in order to get your head above water for your next breath. But then you can relax for a surprisingly-long period of time until you kick and straighten for your next breath. Never a well-trained, fast, efficient swimmer, still, I remember swimming for miles, for hours at a time, exploring some islands and old church steeples in the TVA-flooded Land-Between-The-Lakes, down in Tennessee, back when I was a kid. Just because I read a PS article, and adapted it into my own, home-made, breast-stroke/Drownproofing technique. And now, we're closing down public-school pools, and the basic water-safety instruction that goes with them, in order to save a few bucks that we can then spend on privatized charter schools. How many of our kids should we sacrifice towards that end?


Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 9:12 p.m.

Drownproofing is no longer promoted by the Red Cross. That's very old and dangerous info to pass around. It can only be used VERY briefly, before the swimmer tires...which can happen very quickly. Especially in the cold waters of Lake Michigan. You must take into account waves and currents, and simply drifting further out into the lake.

Ann English

Tue, Jul 23, 2013 : 12:30 a.m.

hmsp, In the seventies, I remember seeing a film in a science class about Drownproofing. Kids and at least one man were demonstrating drownproofing in a deep swimming pool. Today, it's probably in the Red Cross lifesaving books.

Hugh Giariola

Mon, Jul 22, 2013 : 12:23 p.m.

I was with you up until the charter school reference. That's a reach.

Nicholas Urfe

Mon, Jul 22, 2013 : 12:11 p.m.

Popular Science and Popular Mechanics have always had stupid articles that oversell and gloss over the real world. They still do. Good luck doing that in pounding lake michigan surf. Especially for a kid who might think they're going to be swept beyond the visible horizon. Now if only those magazines could "stupid proof" themselves.


Mon, Jul 22, 2013 : 3:11 a.m.

If ever, when swimming. you are being pulled away from shore by a current swim parallel to the shore, not toward it. By swimming parallel you will swim out of the current and then can return to shore without fighting it.


Mon, Jul 22, 2013 : 2:41 a.m.

The picture of the family on the beach is heartbreaking. No words :(

Mike D.

Mon, Jul 22, 2013 : 12:39 a.m.

This is my biggest fear every time I swim in Lake Michigan, especially after the local boy died a few weeks ago. This year, the currents seem stronger than usual and the water colder. Rest in peace Raybeon.


Mon, Aug 5, 2013 : 9:06 p.m.

Please note my post. It could save your life.