September 01, 2018 07:58 PM
What began as a family kayaking trip turned tragic Thursday when a family of five capsized trying to cross a four-mile stretch of Lake Superior.
"It's known for having very unforgiving weather and being able to turn in an instant," U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Justin Sickler told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS.
The family was traveling from the northern end of Madeline Island to Michigan Island. Sickler says the sit-on-top style kayak they were in started taking on water. The mother who survived, Cari Mews, was separated from her family, staying with the boat at first to text for help.
"She knew the equipment in the bag would assist them in being found and rescued, and really went out of the way to protect her family," Sickler said.
However, it took four-and-a-half hours for the text to go through because of poor cell service, and the waves increased in intensity.
"When we got on scene, they were about two to four feet and continued that high throughout the duration of the search," Sickler said.
That happened at about 9 p.m. 50 to 100 people including both emergency crews and nearby boaters searched for the family. A Canadian Coast Guard C-130 even flew overhead.
After treading water for six hours, Mews was rescued nearly a mile from the Michigan Island shore. The flashlight she had led crews to her. The bodies of her husband, Eric Fryman, and two children were found about a mile and a half from her. The oldest child was found the next morning near Stockton Island.
Sickler said the kayak was located with several hundred pounds of water in it.
"It's a very trying time, our emotions are definitely with them," Sickler said.
He added the family was well-prepared, with a phone on board, that flashlight, and everyone was wearing a life jacket, which made them easier to find.
Due to the poor cell service in the area, the U.S. Coast Guard recommends boaters carry a Marine radio or a personal locator beacon, which can get a call for help out more quickly in the case of an emergency.
Callan Gray & Tommy Wiita
Created: September 01, 2018 07:58 PM
Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company