Kayakers rescued after boats sink in Lake Michigan

Becky Vargo • Jul 23, 2018 at 1:07 PM

PORT SHELDON TWP. — A brother and sister are recovering at home after their kayaks sank in Lake Michigan on Sunday afternoon.

The siblings, an 18-year-old man and 17-year-old girl, were on vacation from Illinois, said Sgt. Eric Westveer of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office marine patrol unit.

Road and marine patrol units responded to the area of the Port Sheldon pierheads when a call for help came in at about 5:18 p.m. The caller said two people were in the water near the south pierhead.

A Sheriff’s Office marine patrol unit, on duty on nearby Pigeon Lake at the time, responded and found the two teens struggling in the water with the male trying to keep the female afloat, Westveer said. The girl was partially submerged at the time.

Deputies threw a lifeline and flotation devices to the teens, both of whom were able to grab the devices and be pulled to the boat. The teens were then transported to paramedics waiting on shore.

Westveer said that the investigation shows that the teens had each taken a kayak from shore and went out into Lake Michigan.

“Upon seeing they were a long way out from shore, they attempted to turn back,” Westveer said. “At that time, both kayaks began taking on water, forcing the subjects out of the kayaks. Both kayaks at this time did sink, leaving the subjects swimming in the waters.”

Westveer said the teens had lifejackets in the kayaks, but they were not wearing them. The life jackets went down with the kayaks.

Once in the water, the teens began to yell for help, alerting a person on shore who heard the cries and called 911.

The Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office reminds everyone to use personal flotation devices when on or around the lakes and waters.

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