Local deputies nominated for Superhero award.

April 8, 2016

Oceana County Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Schiller

The public can vote online through Sunday.

ANN ARBOR — The Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium (GLWSC) will present its first Water Safety Superhero Award at its 2016 conferences, set for April 19 in Cleveland, Ohio and April 22 in Grand Haven.

Two local police officers, Oceana County Sheriff’s Deputy Ryan Schiller and Mason County Sheriff’s Deputy Brandon Romero, are among the seven nominees for the Superhero award. Mason County Emergency Management Coordinator Liz Reimink is among the five nominees for the Volunteer of the Year award.

Schiller received a life-saving award from the Michigan Sheriff’s Association in 2013 for a drowning incident that occurred in the Pentwater River. He found the man downstream of the Hart Dam with his body slumped, face-first in the water. He pulled the man onto dry land and used his Automated External Defibrillator (AED) to bring the man back to life.

Romero, a Hart native, saved a local man and a 6-year-old boy from drowning on the west side of the Hart Dam last January. The boy was sledding down a hill, and his sled hit a rock, propelling him into the icy waters. Romero pulled the boy out and then used his fish stringer to rescue the man who had jumped in to save the boy but found himself in trouble in the deep water and strong current.

Reimink is nominated for her “stellar leadership and making the waves of change,” states the GLSC ballot. She is the driving force of the Mason/Oceana County Water Safety Committee. “Through her dedication, she has brought together many other individuals in her area, with the result being an ongoing partnership of local, state and private interests, to ultimately get a dialog to address Great Lakes drownings.”

Nominations have been received from the 200-plus consortium members, representing water safety organizations from the eight Great Lake states and Ontario. Winners will be chosen based on voting from the consortium and the public, and awarded at conference ceremonies. The one-minute voting ballot will be available at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GLWSCawards16 through Sunday, April 10:

“Similar to the National Drowning Prevention Alliance’s Lifesaver of the Year Award, the Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium’s Superhero Award will recognize people saving others or helping prevent drowning in the big lakes, whether it’s their job or not,” said Jamie Racklyeft executive director of the Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium. “So many people are doing amazing work to keep people safer in the Great Lakes, we want to begin recognizing them with this award.”

Read more about the nominees and vote here:


Drowning is a year-round reality, and it’s preventable.

According to Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project statistics, there have been 446 drownings in the Great Lakes since 2010, and eight already in 2016.

“It may still be wintry, but people drown year-round, and we want to prepare everyone for the busy summer beach season with the latest life-saving information from our many expert presenters,” said Racklyeft.

The public is invited to learn about waves and currents from research scientists, first responders, and other lifesaving experts at two Great Lakes water safety conferences, including how to avoid, escape, and safely save others. Hosted by the new Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium, there will be presenters representing the National Weather Service, Sea Grant Institute, research universities, local organizations, and popular vacation communities.

NDPA 2012 and 2016 Lifesaver of the Year Bob Pratt will keynote both events.

The Grand Haven 2016 Water Safety Conference is set for April 22, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Grand Haven Community Center. Register at https://glwscgrandhaven16.splashthat.com/.

Everyone is welcome to attend and learn about ways to end drowning. Parents, community leaders, teachers, police, firefighters, EMTs, park rangers, the media – anyone who wants to learn to avoid, escape, and safely save others from waves and dangerous currents, and help spread water safety messages, including:

  • Know before you go
  • Stay dry when waves are high
  • When in doubt, don’t go out
  • Steer clear of the pier
  • Flip, float and follow
  • Drowning doesn’t look like drowning

Visit GreatLakesWaterSafety.org for more information, for training referrals, or to join the Consortium for free.

The mission of the Great Lakes Water Safety Consortium is to connect all groups and individuals interested in water safety to maximize our collective knowledge, resources, and actions to END DROWNING in the Great Lakes.

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