(NEW YORK) — A former lifeguard rescued two swimmers who were pulled out by a strong rip current while swimming in Lake Michigan this Labor Day.
Sherri Talcott, 51, told ABC News that she was walking along Pere Marquette Beach near Muskogen, Michigan when she noticed a young boy far out in the water. She then saw another individual, who she believed was his father, swimming out after him.
Talcott, who grew up in Muskogen, said she could tell they were in distress and too far from shore.
“I threw my daughter my phone and I said ‘Call 911, find a life jacket,'” Talcott said, before swimming out after them. They were at least the length of “a football field, maybe two,” out in the water, she said.
“The waves were getting over my head,” Talcott said, describing the conditions where she found the boy.
“He was in a panic, but he calmed down really quickly when I gave him the life jacket,” Talcott said about the boy. “As we tried to swim out of the rip current the young boy said, ‘I don’t know how to swim very well, I only know how to tread water. And the father was just in shock.'”
“I am local of the area, so I am pretty familiar with lake Michigan and the water,” Talcott added. “That is the most important thing to me, that it gets out there the dangers of the rip current near the piers.”
A boater arrived shortly after, lifting the three onto the boat and taking them to shore.
Talcott said she could not emphasize enough how dangerous the rip currents are in Lake Michigan. “My grandfather was a marine and he taught us all how to swim in lake Michigan, so I am extremely aware of the currents,” Talcott said.
She said besides some sore biceps she emerged from the incident unscathed. She said local authorities assured her that the boy and father, who she did not know, were also doing well.
Jonathan Mooney was walking along the beach on Monday and caught the entire rescue on film. “I’d been out taking photographs, I had a camera in my hands so I just turned it on,” Mooney told ABC News.
“I was just walking back from the pier and noticed a young man swimming, he was trying to swim to shore but he was obviously getting swept out. Sherri and her family were walking towards me and asked if he was in trouble and I was like, ‘I am not sure, but it kind of looks like it,'” Mooney said, “She grabbed a life jacket and went out there with no hesitation, she just took off.”
Mooney, who also grew up in Muskogen, also emphasized the dangers of the lake, that many tourists are not aware of, “Lake Michigan is no different from the ocean, people don’t understand that when they come for vacation.”
“They were very lucky. I’m glad she took off after them. I don’t think they would have made it. I was happy for her. I just thought it was amazing she didn’t hesitate,” Mooney added.
The U.S. Coast Guard Station in Muskogen said they had responded to a call from dispatch reporting that there were two people in the water off of Pere Marquette Beach. One of their boat crews responded, but a civilian boat had already had the people on board.
“They were brought on the civilian boat to our station and we contacted EMS. Two of our crew members rendered basic first aid,” Petty Officer First Class Deandre Burks of the U.S. Coast Guard Station in Muskogen told ABC News.
“Our thoughts on the case are what that woman did was very brave, she’s a good Samaritan, it’s a good person that’ll go out there and put her life in harm’s way for two individuals,” Burks added, “It was a matter of life and death for those individuals, really.”
Burks said the two who were rescued did not report any serious injuries or require hospitalization.
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