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Girl Pulled from Cedar Lake Dies; Officials Stress Swimming Safety

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office says the teenage girl who was pulled from Cedar Lake in Minneapolis Sunday has died.

The 16-year-old girl had been swimming with friends when she disappeared Sunday afternoon. Witnesses say the teen jumped off a swimming raft and never resurfaced. Divers from the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office found her, and it’s believed she was underwater for close to 45 minutes.

Rescue divers found the girl in 12 feet of water and about 100 feet from shore, near the raft. The girl’s name has not been released. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office will release her identity, police said.

The girl was receiving treatment at the Hennepin County Medical Center.

Her death is one of two dozen drowning incidents this year, and the event has touched the hearts of many who have been advocates for swimming education and safety.

Dawn Sommers, of the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, says the board operates 12 beaches — but only seven of the busiest have lifeguards on duty.

“We have had a challenge hiring lifeguards this year,” she said. “So we had two beaches this weekend we did not have enough guards for.”

The board’s goal is to have 35 guards, but they’re short.

Hannah Lieder, of Minneapolis Swims, said safe swimming involves having many eyes on swimmers, because drowning is fast and often silent. Lieder is an advocate of swimming education.

“We were the City of Lakes, we’re the Land of 10,000 Lakes, we have to be ensuring that every person in this city and this state learns how to swim,” she said.

She is pushing for more access to pools for kids and adults in Minneapolis, where there are no public indoor swimming pools. It’s her hope more people will learn to swim and lend a helping hand to others at area pools and beaches this summer.

“The kids that are less confident in the water, they’re not going to tell their friends they’re scared,” she said. “They are going to try and do [swim].”

Sommers also stressed the need for swimming education for young people in urban areas.

Last year, there were 20 near drownings and 19 drownings in Hennepin County. The numbers were so high that Water Patrol partnered with Foss Swim School to offer pool safety classes at area apartment complexes. But many Minnesotans also believe that swimming lessons should be supplied to everyone across the state.

That effort is called resolution 658, and it acknowledges that water safety education should be included in primary and secondary school education.

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