'This has been a pretty bad summer:' Life preserver stations established at Racine beaches to help reduce drownings

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RACINE, Wis.(CBS58) -- There will now be complimentary life preservers at Zoo Beach and North Beach in Racine County. 

Maggie Graft and her little one took advantage of the new vests at North beach Friday, Aug. 27.

"I think its super nice, a great idea."

"This is our proactive approach to stop the emergency before it starts," Brian Turczynski said. He is a lieutenant with the Racine Fire Department. 

There have been four drownings in Racine this summer. One at Zoo Beach and three at North Beach. The latest victim identified as 40-year-old Thomas Walker. A Missouri who died Sunday, Aug. 22 at North Beach trying to save two children.

"This has been a pretty bad summer," Turczynski said.

Several Racine organizations are pulling together to reduce the risk of drownings. The city of Racine Fire Department Local 321 bought 150 life preservers and twelve throw rings. The Racine Founder's Rotary Club helped fund the project.

"We're doing what we can to make this beach a much safer place," Chris Terry said. Terry is the founder of the club. 

Twenty to 25 life preservers can be found in boxes on the beach. Sizes range from adults to infants. 

"This one seems like really perfect for her," Graft said.

One box is now on North Beach. Students at Park High School will build the last two when school is back in session. 

"I think it's going to be a great way for our students to give back to the community," Greg Kiriaki said. He is an instructor at the school. 

It's a community effort to help protect each other.

"The problem that we've seen on the beach several times this summer hopefully it doesn't happen again in the future," Terry said. "If it does happen again in the future we are confident enough to know we did what we could to help out."

There will be two life vests stations at North Beach and one at Zoo Beach. Turczynski says this was a $10,000 project. The stations will be placed out on the beaches from April to mid-October. They will be stored in the winter.


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