The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Community News Network

July 18, 2013

Kayaker is 3rd 'dry drowning' in lake community this summer

LELAND, Mich. — The death of a kayaker in Lake Michigan this week was the third caused by "dry drowning" -- in which cold water closes off airways --  in the Grand Traverse region of northern Michigan this summer.

Robert J. Womac, 70, was kayaking with another man Tuesday when a large wave overtook them about 100 yards from shore, Leelanau County Sheriff Mike Borkovich told the Record-Eagle. He said a witness called 911 at about 4 p.m. and reported the kayak was upside-down and two victims were in the water.

Womac wasn't wearing a life preserver, but the other rider was, Borkovich said. The other rider told authorities the water was "glass calm" when they left from Womac's summer home, but winds soon whipped up 3-foot waves that capsized their kayak.

"It threw them about 20 feet from the boat when they went over," Borkovich said.

Medical Examiner Matthew Houghton said a postmortem exam performed Wednesday showed Womac’s likely cause of death was "laryngospastic dry drowning" — a reflex response triggered by exposure to cold water. Dry drowning victims show little or no water in their lungs.

"(They gulp) in water and it aggravates the epiglottis and closes off the breathing system," Houghton said.

Miles Percy Smith, 16, of Wyandotte, Mich., and Michael Anthony Michalski, 53, of Fife Lake, Mich., both died June 23 in separate incidents that were ruled dry drownings. Houghton said colder-than-normal water temperatures this summer explain the three dry drowning deaths: surface temperatures where Womac was found were 67 degrees.

"He was found in 11 feet of water," Houghton said. “The temperature drops about 1 degree a foot. Anything below 68 (degrees) can cause a laryngospasm."

---

Details for this story provided by the Traverse City (Mich.) Record-Eagle.

1
Text Only
Community News Network
  • American sunscreens need an upgrade

    The last time a new sunscreen ingredient came on the U.S. market, the Y2K bug was threatening to destroy our way of life. Intel had just introduced the Pentium III processor, featuring an amazing 500 MHz of computing power.

    April 24, 2014

  • 20140424-AMX-COFFEE24.jpg Coffee growers' prayers for rain met with threat of deluge

    Brazil's drought made arabica coffee this year's best-performing commodity. Now, farmers are facing a downpour that is once more threatening crops.

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Celebrity quack moms are a terrible influence on everyday parents

    On April 15, the actress Alicia Silverstone released a book called "The Kind Mama: A Simple Guide to Supercharged Fertility, a Radiant Pregnancy, a Sweeter Birth, and a Healthier, More Beautiful Beginning." It's chock-full of attachment parenting lessons and dangerous misinformation.

    April 24, 2014

  • Affirmative action ruling challenges colleges seeking diversity

    The U.S. Supreme Court's support of Michigan's ban on race-based affirmative action in university admissions may spur colleges to find new ways to achieve diversity without using racial preferences.

    April 23, 2014

  • A 'wearable robot' helps her walk again

    Science is about facts, numbers, laws and formulas. To be really good at it, you need to spend a lot of time in school. But science is also about something more: dreaming big and helping people.

    April 23, 2014

  • Cuba is running out of condoms

    The newest item on Cuba's list of dwindling commodities is condoms, which are now reportedly in short supply. In response, the Cuban government has approved the sale of expired condoms.

    April 23, 2014

  • The waffle taco's biggest enemy isn't McDonald's. It's consumer habits.

    Gesturing to Taco Bell, Thompson said McDonald's had "not seen an impact relative to the most recent competitor that entered the [breakfast] space," and that new competition would only make McDonald's pursue breakfast more aggressively.

    April 23, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 4.42.47 PM.png VIDEO: Leopard attacks crowd in India

    A leopard caused panic in the city of Chandrapur when it sprung from the roof of a house and charged at rescue workers.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • The top 12 government programs ever

    Which federal programs and policies succeed in being cost-effective and targeting those who need them most? These two tests are obvious: After all, why would we spend taxpayers' money on a program that isn't worth what it costs or helps those who do not need help?

    April 22, 2014

  • In cuffs... 'Warlock' in West Virginia accused of sexual assault

    Police in West Virginia say a man claiming to be a “warlock” used promises of magical spells to lure children into committing sexual acts with him.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo