Sister of previous drowning victim, Matthew Rheaume reaches out - KBJR 6 Your Weather Authority: News, Weather & Sports

Sister of previous drowning victim, Matthew Rheaume reaches out to Fuglie family

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DULUTH, MN -

It's been more than a decade since Park Point beach has seen a drowning.

Since rip currents were identified in Lake Superior a number of Duluth organizations have worked together to set up a warning system.

August 17th 2003 was a turning point for Duluth but especially for Katie Rheaume.

"The waves took him and he drowned and it was, I don't remember much after that," she said.

It will be fourteen years next week since crews rescued six people out on Park Point and recovered her brother, 21-year-old Matthew Rheaume.

The Rheaume family then worked with people like Jesse Schomberg, with the Minnesota Sea Grant to try to prevent something like this from happening again.

"It was kind of the big wake up call for everyone in this area that we have rip currents on Park Point and they're deadly and this is something that we really need to pay attention to," he said.

From there, Sea Grant worked with the fire department, the city and the National Weather Service to get signs, flags and other warnings out there and Park Point hadn't seen another drowning since. 

Then, exactly a week before the fourteen year anniversary of Rheaume's death, Lake Superior took two more lives off Park Point beach a 10-year-old girl and her father both from western Wisconsin.

The red flag warning and signs describing the dangerous conditions were up on the beach that day and we still don't know why the two swimmers were in the water.

"My heart ached it hurt. Not for me but for the family and what they have to go through now," Rheaume said.

It was a familiar ache she said as she saw history repeat in a way few can understand.

"I'm sorry that you guys have to go through this," she said. "I know what it's like. It's hard."

That's her message for a mourning family.

As for the city of Duluth, the shock is still setting in, even as the beach sees green flag conditions one day too late.

Schomberg said their education efforts are well known in the Duluth community but a lot of visitors have a tendency to underestimate the lake. He says they're hoping to do more tourist outreach soon.

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