MILWAUKEE -- The situation could have been worse. That's what officials who took part in a water rescue are saying after a boat began taking on water off the shore of Grant Park in South Milwaukee Monday night, July 3rd -- just after the U.S. Bank Fireworks Show. The majority of those on board were children.
Thankfully, the operator of the boat had all the tools needed to safely wait out the situation until help arrived.
After a day of celebration on July 3rd, and a 40-minute U.S. Bank Fireworks Show along Milwaukee's lakefront, a distress call came through in the night. A boat was taking on water.
"Any time there are children on board, we take extra precautions," said Alexander Donald, U.S. Coast Guard petty officer.
Donald took part in the rescue of three adults and six children. He said throughout the evening, the Coast Guard had been assisting other boats. Finding the boat taking on water became difficult.
"We went ahead and told our station to have them light up a couple more flares," said Donald.
Donald said it wasn't until after the boater set off the second flare that they were able to locate them just off shore.
"They were drifting into shore pretty swiftly, so we threw over a line and towed them away from the shallow water," said Donald.
All on board were accounted for -- with life preservers on. Those who were part of the rescue said the boat started taking on water after it hit a small pier.
"The Coast Guard and our boat arrived there simultaneously," said South Milwaukee Fire Chief Joseph Knitter.
Knitter and his team were among several agencies that responded to the call.
"Oftentimes we run into boaters that aren’t prepared to be out after dark. Fortunately this boater had personal flotation devices for all of the occupants," said Knitter.
Knitter said he can't stress enough the power a body of water can have and the importance of being prepared.
"Lake Michigan can come up with some surprises for us and the weather conditions can change drastically," said Knitter.
Once the occupants were assisted, rescue operators went back to assist other boaters.
“We were out till about midnight. We did a lot of good. I can’t wait to do it again tonight," said Donald.
The Coast Guard would continue to assist the public on the Fourth of July.
The Department of Natural Resources took over Monday night's rescue after the Coast Guard and assisted those on board.