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Magician Lake drowning sheds light on need for water safety

SISTER LAKES, Mich. -- A Van Buren County man’s death on July 4th has lake lovers in Cass County talking about increased dangers during busy holiday weekends.

“We had a lot of bystanders that lined the roads, just pointing in the direction that we needed to go,” said Anthony Lozada, the chief of the Sister Lakes Fire Department. “And there were a lot of bystanders who assisted at the scene.”

Derek Jackson, 28, of Gobles, Michigan died Tuesday after hitting a wave and being thrown off his jet ski around 5 p.m.

Jackson was not drinking, he had a life vest on, and he had a tether that would turn off his jet ski if he was ejected.

But the force of the crash in Magician Lake was still too much.

Lozada said the tragedy shows how deceptive the water can be, especially because accidents like this don’t happen in the Sister Lakes region often.

“We’ve had maybe a half a dozen in the 15 years that I’ve been here,” he said. “And only a couple of them have been very serious.”

But longtime lovers of Magician Lake said off camera that it gets hard to navigate during holiday weekends.

One man, who has spent the last 25 summers at the lake, said he no longer goes into the water on holidays because it’s too crowded.

“Our population here typically quadruples on the weekends, sometimes more,” Lozada said.

He said you should always call 911 first if there’s an emergency, so he can respond with his team.

But Lozada also said lake lovers should learn basic first-aid.

“Go out and learn CPR,” he said. “Make yourself aware of how that works so that, in the event you have a situation like this, you can assist and potentially make a difference.”

The Cass County undersheriff, who happened to be on Magician Lake with family at the time of the crash, joined first responders and bystanders in attempting to save Jackson.

Authorities said bystanders pulled Jackson out of the water and began performing CPR on him before first responders arrived.

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