Firefighters safely rescued a kayaker in distress who went missing and was located floating in Lake Michigan several miles out from Winthrop Harbor.
The Winthrop Harbor Fire Department responded around 6:36 p.m. Sunday to the boat launch at North Point Marina, 701 North Point Drive, for a report of an injured person.
Fire crews learned the incident involved a kayaker who was in distress at an unknown location off North Point Marina, according to Winthrop Harbor Deputy Fire Chief John Lewis.
Two off-duty Winthrop Harbor staff members who were already at the marina were able to quickly launch the Winthrop Harbor fire boat in preparation for a rescue.
The Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (MABAS) was activated to the box alarm level to bring boats, divers and support from fire departments across Lake County and southern Kenosha County.
The fire boat was launched to locate the stranded kayaker.
A second fire boat and staff from the Pleasant Prairie Fire Department and a US Coast Guard boat out of Kenosha also assisted, Lewis said.
The Winthrop Harbor fire boat was able to visualize what appeared to be a kayak in the water approximately three miles east of North Point Marina and moved in that direction.
The Winthrop Harbor Police Department assisted by pinging the missing person’s phone.
Lewis said fire crews used the phone coordinates to locate the subject, who was found in the water wearing a life vest and holding onto his kayak.
Firefighters were able to get the man out of the water and return him to shore where he was evaluated by an ambulance crew.
He was released from the scene with no injuries, Lewis said.
The Pleasant Prairie Fire Department, Antioch Fire Department, Grayslake Fire Protection District, Mundelein Fire Department, Salem Lakes Fire and Rescue, Wauconda Fire Department, Waukegan Fire Department and Zion ESDA assisted.
The Winthrop Harbor Fire Department said they stress the importance of wearing a life vest whenever on watercraft.