Video released shows a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter rescuing a man and woman, who had been stranded in Lake Michigan for over five hours, near Waukegan Tuesday evening.
Kathleen Root, 31, and Michael Root were rescued by an MH-60 helicopter aircrew based out of Traverse City, Michigan at around 7 p.m. Tuesday following a major search effort.
Watchstanders from Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan received a report at around 4 p.m. that the operator from a sailing vessel recovered an unmanned personal watercraft approximately three miles offshore of Forest Park Beach in Lake Forest two and half hours prior.
The recovered watercraft had two cell phones, a set of keys and a wallet with identification cards aboard, the U.S. Coast Guard said.
Sector Lake Michigan watchstanders issued an Urgent Marine Information Broadcast, performed callouts to missed calls from the cell phone and launched search and rescue crews, according to the U.S. Coast Guard 9th District.
Local authorities located the missing persons’ vehicle and watercraft trailer in the marina parking lot at Great Lakes Naval Base.
A Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City MH-60 helicopter crew arrived at the scene and began a track line search from the naval base to the last known position of the watercraft.
Approximately two and a half miles into the search, the helicopter crew located both people wearing lifejackets and waving their arms in the water.
“The aircrew deployed the rescue swimmer, hoisted the survivors, and transported them to local emergency medical services where they were treated for mild hypothermia,” the U.S. Coast Guard said in a statement.
The search included response boat crews from Coast Guard Stations Wilmette and Calumet Harbor, an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter crew from Air Station Traverse City, an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew from Air Station Detroit, and a C-130 crew from Joint Rescue Coordination Center Trenton, Ontario.
The Coast Guard said that the couple, who are parents to three children, fell off their watercraft into the water and were stranded for several hours.
“We didn’t realize how bad it was until we got onto land and everyone was telling us the horror stories of the lake and how people don’t really survive what we encountered,” Michael Root told CBS 2 Chicago.
“My wife was crying with tears of joy she knew it was over and she could finally go home,” Root added.