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Police marine unit plucks woman from lake after watercraft flips

Updated: July 27, 2014 8:48PM

A ride on a personal watercraft nearly turned deadly Sunday afternoon when Lake Michigan went from nearly flat to 6-foot waves in a matter of minutes.

A 27-year-old woman, and her 28-year-old boyfriend — who were riding a personal watercraft — fell into 55-degree water when it overturned about 3 miles offshore just after 4 p.m., a police source said.

The boyfriend was able to right the watercraft and climb back on. He tried to pull his girlfriend out of the water, but she struggled and couldn’t make it.

She soon became exhausted, began swallowing water and had trouble breathing, the source said.

A man in a separate watercraft, who was leading the couple on a guided tour, realized the urgency of the situation and sped to shore to seek help.

Meanwhile, a female captain of one of the Seadogs — giant speedboats that offer lake tours — noticed the struggling couple and alerted police, who sped to scene.

At one point, as her boyfriend tried to maintain a grip on her, the woman’s body nearly went limp, and her life preserver, which didn’t fit properly, began to come her head in the choppy water, the source said.

“Just let me go,” she told her boyfriend, according to the source.

A police boat arrived and officers quickly hauled her aboard, at which point she began vomiting lake water. She was conscious and talking as police sped to the shore. The woman, who was suffering from hypothermia after spending about an hour in the frigid water, was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in critical condition, the source said. Her boyfriend was treated at the scene.

“Cold water sucks the life out of you,” the police source said. “If there had been one hiccup, this would have been a recovery and not a rescue.”


Twitter: @mitchdudek

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