Kenosha looks to improve pier safety after student swept away in Lake Michigan

KENOSHA — Family tells FOX6 News, a body found near Carthage College on Wednesday, Sept. 12 is that of a teen swept away from Kenosha’s North Pier last week. Police have not yet confirmed that information. The tragedy is sparking officials in Kenosha to act quickly on how to improve pier safety.

Exactly one week since the Indian Trail High School student went missing, friends and family gathered at the beach on Thursday, Sept. 13 praying and sharing stories and memories of the teen. Family tells us it’s been an emotional week.

“There’s all of the grief and pain of the immediacy of this loss and then there was six days before they were even able to recover his body and so that just happened yesterday and I think there is some closure in all of that,” said Aaron Zorn, who is the teen’s second cousin.

Changes to improve pier safety are being discussed all with one goal: so something like this never happens again.

“All the legislators are in agreement with this,” said Alderman David Bogdala.

There are no life rings on Kenosha’s pier, and Alderman David Bogdala is in the process of changing that. But any change must be in writing and approved by the US Army Corps of Engineers.

“That’s why I call it a bureaucratic mess because it’s just stuck right now,” said Bogdala.

David Bogdala

He wants to add two life ring kiosks but to do it the city has to submit a plan to the United States Army Corps of Engineers with two components.

“One, they require you to carry a $2 million insurance policy, which we can do very easily and at a very minimal cost. Secondly, they require a maintenance agreement to ensure if you’re going to put something up, you’re going to take care of it,” said Bogdala.

Until the plan is submitted in writing which hasn’t happened, according to the Army Corps, no life rings can go up.

“For some reason all this summer, the city attorney’s office in my opinion has dragged their feet in getting this lease agreement,” said Bogdala. “Why he’s taking so long to get this done, I have no idea.”

Robert Stanick with the US Army Corps of Engineers said although nothing has been submitted in writing, multiple ideas have been discussed including the kiosks and closing the pier altogether.

Stanick said the latest tragedy brought the issue “back to the forefront” although it’s been part of discussions since at least May.

Stanick said that’s when Congressman Ryan’s office called to check on the status of the issue. He said the city and the Corps have been back and forth for awhile now.

“I want the life ring up there so that somebody might have a chance if in fact they fall in or they jump in,” said Bogdala. “We want to get it up there so possibly it could save their life.”