Visitor of NMU students drowns in Superior

Cody Boyer

A 19-year old Detroit male was found dead at Little Presque Isle in Marquette Township over the weekend after authorities located his body in 25 feet of water, according to officials.Kenny Rubbet drowned in Lake Superior on Sunday, Sept. 8, with authorities discovering his body around 3 p.m.According to Michigan State Police, Rubbet had been swimming with three other teenaged adults on the north side of Little Presque when he found himself in distress.

Students cross to Little Presque Isle early this week. Little Presque was the site of a drowning involving a teenager from Detroit on Sunday, Sept. 8. (Photo: Kristen Koehler)
Students cross to Little Presque Isle early this week. Little Presque was the site of a drowning involving a teenager from Detroit on Sunday, Sept. 8. (Photo: Kristen Koehler)

The other members of the group tried to assist Rubbet, but were unable to reach him due to rough water conditions, authorities said.

Michigan State Police recorded that Rubbet was not a student at Northern Michigan University.

James Robertson, officer-in-charge at the Coast Guard Station in Marquette, said the U.S. Coast Guard was notified of a possible incident and responded quickly.

“At around 3 o’clock [Sunday] afternoon, we received a report of a possible drowning victim off of [Little] Presque Isle,” Robertson said. “We immediately launched our 25-foot response boat and went to the scene.”

Robertson also said the Sheriff’s Department Divers had to be utilized after the victim could not be reached by the Coast Guard boats.

“When we arrived on scene, we started a shoreline search and some people on shore directed us to where they had last seen the victim,” Robertson said. “The search unit that was on shore could see what appeared to be the victim on the bottom at about 20 feet of water. We were able to verify that they could see the victim and [we] were unable to reach him with any of the boat pulls that we have onboard the boat. We stood by for the Sheriff’s Department Divers in case they needed assistance in any way.”

According to Michigan State Police, attempts to resuscitate Rubbet at Marquette General Hospital were unsuccessful following the removal of the victim from the scene.

According to Public Safety, rip currents and rough waters are a frequent danger at all times of the year in Lake Superior. Rip currents are present in every one of Michigan’s Great Lakes, causing a total of 120 fatalities collectively between the years of 2002 and 2012, according to the Marquette National Weather Service. The Marquette NWS also recorded 10 deaths in Lake Superior between the years of 2002 and 2008.

NMU Director of Communications Cindy Paavola said, while Lake Superior is something to enjoy, it is also something to respect.

“We try to do a lot of things to make information easy for students to have access to about water safety because Lake Superior is one of our greatest assets but she is a very powerful lake,” Paavola said. “There are certain dangers. We try to make available for students information that teaches them about water safety issues and some of the things they should be cautious about when going into the water in both Lake Superior and in some of the smaller lakes that are in the area.”

According to Paavola, NMU provides multiple online sources for students and other people to stay informed about rip current forecasts for Lake Superior swimming areas near Marquette. Paavola said information about rip tide dangers and survival tips can be located at

“[The website] does have some links to some tools that the city created; they have a rip tide daily forecast and they have a link on that page to that tool,” Paavola said. “They also have a video that was put up there just recently that our students created talking to some of the people who are on the water safety task force for the city about how to approach having fun in Lake Superior and also having fun safely.”

The Marquette Township Fire Department, the U.S. Coast Guard and Marquette General EMS were all present at the scene near Little Presque Isle according to authorities.

Paavola said the dangers of Lake Superior are certainly present to those planning on swimming in it, but the risks can be avoided.

“It is truly one of the most attractive things about the area and it is meant to be used to be a joy,” Paavola said. “As I said, though, it is a powerful lake and there are certainly some precautions that need to be taken. Students and people need to be taught, if they aren’t from around here originally, to pay attention to that and take that to heed.