June 26, 2016

Partly sunny

No lifeguards on duty at Lake Erie beach where man died Saturday

An official from Cleveland Metroparks said lifeguards were not on duty Saturday at Bay Village’s Huntington Beach where a Medina Township father of four died saving a young girl from drowning in Lake Erie.

Peter Radke, 43, was among the group who helped the young girl who was struggling in the water.

Peter Radke

Peter Radke

While the girl was saved, Radke did not emerge.

The Cleveland Metroparks spokesperson said lifeguards are not scheduled to staff the beach until Saturday, June 7.

The Cleveland Metroparks treats every beach differently — Edgewater Park was staffed with lifeguards beginning Memorial Day weekend.

“We staff our beaches from a certain day and certain time during the year,” the official said. “Between those times the beach is swim at your own risk.”

Experts say swimming in Lake Erie at this time of year presents special problems. An official from the Cleveland post of the Coast Guard said that while the air temperature may be warm, water temperature may remain too cold to swim safely.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the water in Lake Erie off the coast of Cleveland on Monday was 51 degrees while the air temperature this weekend reached into the 80s.

Coast Guard officer Levi Read said that the Coast Guard treats any water temperature under 72 degrees with extreme caution.

“When the water is in the high 40s to mid-50s it takes about an hour for hypothermia to set in,” he said.

Divers found Radke’s body after a three hour search, which was aided by 11 different agencies.

Radke and his family were celebrating his daughter’s birthday.

A statement released by his family said he was, “dedicated to serving God and anyone in need.”

Radke’s pastor, Jeff Bogue, said Radke was reacting on his fatherly instinct when he chose to dive into the water.

“He was a very giving person,” he said. “I don’t think anything else crossed his mind other than go in after the girl.”

The incident is under investigation.

“We are saddened by the incident that occurred yesterday evening at Huntington Beach and send our thoughts and prayers to the family of Peter Radke,” a press release said. “Huntington Beach has long been a destination for families to gather in our community and nothing is more important to us than the safety of our visitors.”

Funeral arrangements for Radke have not been announced yet.

Contact reporter Andrew Davis at (330) 721-4050 or adavis@medina-gazette.com.

Andrew Davis About Andrew Davis

Andrew Davis covered Medina city government for The Gazette from January 2014 to May 2015. Contact The Gazette's news department at (330) 721-4065 or areanews@medina-gazette.com.