Kayaker missing in Lake Michigan found alive, but in critical condition

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MILWAUKEE -- The U.S. Coast Guard was dispatched to McKinley Marina on Monday morning, Oct. 1 for a report of a kayaker in distress. The call came in just before 9 a.m.

Milwaukee police said they were searching for a 44-year-old woman who was seen entering the water in a purple kayak at approximately 6 a.m. When her husband didn't hear from her after three hours, he called to report her missing.

Tim Wendt

It led to a search by land, air and water.

"About nine miles north of Milwaukee to about six miles south of Milwaukee. We immediately dispatched one of our response boats. We issued an urgent marine information broadcast. That notifies other mariners that there's a possible distressed person on the water," said Tim Wendt, Coast Guard command duty officer.

The Coast Guard had a small boat out on Lake Michigan -- along with the Milwaukee Police Department's Harbor Patrol boat looking for the kayaker.


A Coast Guard helicopter from Traverse City, Michigan assisted with the search. Around 1:30 p.m., a body was pulled from the Milwaukee River near Erie Street, but that would turn out to be that of a 67-year-old man. An hour later, emergency responders received a 911 call from a civilian in McKinley Marina.

"I think it was a boat owner, that found the woman and the kayak," said Wendt.

Nicholas Sorce and Cyrus Mathys

We're told the woman was found alive, but in critical condition. She was taken to St. Mary's Hospital. It is believed she was wearing a life jacket.

Nicholas Sorce and Cyrus Mathys watched the search efforts as they fished on Monday.

"It's really sad. I mean, when you see weather like this, you gotta take precautions out there," said Sorce.

"A lot of times, the winds are more calm, and then it can just shift or pick up in a matter of seconds," said Mathys.

Wendt said this close call should serve as a reminder to check the forecast before heading out on the water.

"Outside the break wall, we had sea conditions. The waves were upwards of seven feet, which is definitely not something you want to be out in in a small boat," said Wendt.

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