Swimmer Rescued From High Waves - Condition Grave - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather and Events

Swimmer Rescued From High Waves - Condition Grave

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A man swimming in Lake Erie off Sara's Campground on Presque Isle apparently got into trouble in the high waves and currents shortly before 10:00 AM.  Millcreek Police investigators identify the man as 66-year old Ralph Miller of Slippery Rock. 

According to police the man was swimming with his two granddaughters on the far west end of the campground in rough waters when the conditions worsened.  They were in the water near a jetty that extends out into the lake.  The three decided to head to shore.  One made it in, but turned around to see that her sister and grandfather were struggling in the water.  She ran for help.

At the same time Paul Sporrer, who was at Kelso beach, on the other side of the jetty, noticed the girl in the water and saw that she was beginning to panic.  "I saw a young girl by herself and didn't think it was good, so I started to go over and she started to seem a little panicked.  I started looking for someone in the water and saw someone bobbing, but they disappeared just that quick, because the waves are that high," said Sporrer.

Two people staying at the campground are volunteer firefighters in New York state and came to the man's aid, helping his granddaughter get him to the shore.  Sources say he was unresponsive.  The fellow campers were able to start CPR.  One woman actually had her CPR rescue bag with her.

Rescuers from the West Lake Fire Department arrived on the scene and transported the man to UPMC Hamot.  They say he was in grave condition.  The other two people in the water were not harmed, but were reportedly very distressed.

West Lake Fire Chief Rich Schau said, "It's the first rough day we've had in a couple weeks.  We've had such nice weather, it sounds like maybe the current or the undertow pulled him under."

Millcreek Police are investigating.  The owners of the campground are Brian and Ann Candela.  They say in the more than 50 years that the beach side campground has been in their family, there has never been an incident of drowning.  Ralph Miller, the man pulled from the water and is a regular visitor to the campsite.

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