McAlester News-Capital, McAlester, OK

Features

July 23, 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 | Photo Reprints
Features
Seasonal Content
AP Video
Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Crew Criticized Over Handling of Ferry Disaster Agreement Reached to Calm Ukraine Tensions Raw: Pope Francis Performs Pre-easter Ritual Raw: Bulgarian Monastery Dyes 5000 Easter Eggs Diplomats Reach Deal to Ease Tensions in Ukraine U.S. Sending Nonlethal Aid to Ukraine Military Holder: Americans Stand With KC Mourners Obama Greets Wounded Warriors Malaysia Plane: Ocean Floor Images 'Very Clear' Sparks Fly With Derulo and Jordin on New Album Franco Leads Star-studded Broadway Cast Raw: Two Lucky Kids Get Ride in Popemobile Boston Bombing Survivors One Year Later Sister of Slain MIT Officer Reflects on Bombing
NDN Video
Man Accuses 'X-Men' Director Bryan Singer of Sexually Abusing Him As a Teenager Lea Michele & Naya Rivera Feuding? Don't Be A Tattletale: Bad Bullying Tips For Students Jabari Parker declares for the NBA draft Singing Nun Belts Out Cyndi Lauper Swim Daily, Throwback Thursday The trillest thoughts on marijuana "RHOA" Star Charged With Battery Grizzly Bears Get Snowy Birthday Party Weatherman draws forecast when another technical glitch strikes WGN Elizabeth Olsen's Sexy Shoot Bay Area Teen Gets Prom Date With Help From 'Breaking Bad' Star Boston Bomb Scare Defendant Appears in Court Behind The Tanlines Jersey Strong Part 1 WATCH: Women Fight To Marry Prince Harry! Jenny McCarthy Engaged to "New Kid" Kate and Will Land in Oz O’Reilly Launches Preemptive Strike Against CBS Pixar Unveils Easter Eggs From its Biggest Movies Baby Sloths Squeak for Their Cuddle Partners in Adorable Video
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.