Authorities stress water safety after couple stranded on air mattress on Lake Michigan

Posted at 6:43 PM, Aug 09, 2017

When most people chill out on an air mattress they usually “float” off to sleep but in Ozaukee County, a couple and their inflatable bed floated right off into Lake Michigan.

Ozaukee County Emergency Managers said the couple took off on an air mattress at South Beach in Port Washington. Tuesday night’s westerly wind pushed them out more than a quarter mile. Soon after, people along shore heard them yelling for help.

"There's some kids on … I can't tell if it's a raft or a boat, but it looks like they're in the water and it keeps flipping over on them," said a 911 caller.

This is just one of several 911 calls for the same incident.

"They're off shore a ways," the caller said.

When rescue crews hit the water around 6 p.m. they found two adults struggling on an air mattress. It’s something Tara Megan couldn't imagine trying in Lake Michigan.

"Maybe they didn't have a float and wanted to float but no, definitely not," she said.

Ozaukee County Emergency Manager Scott Ziegler was one of the first responders who found the couple hundreds of yards off shore.

"Had nobody heard them or seen them, the wind would have continued to push them away from shore at that point," he said.

Ziegler said both adults were clinging to the air mattress.

"They did not have life jackets on," he said. "We're only looking at low 70 degrees and time in the water, hypothermia is still a possibility."

The rescue team brought the couple on board and to safety without injury.

“Lake Michigan is definitely not a place for your average kind of pool toy," Ziegler said.

Anyone boating, kayaking or using a flotation device out on Lake Michigan is required to use a Coast Guard approved life jacket. On South Beach in Port Washington, life jackets can be borrowed from a bin for free.