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Kayakers saved by Good Samaritan in Grafton

Posted at 10:09 PM, Aug 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-30 08:15:10-04

CEDARBURG -- Near record flood levels have made dangerous conditions in Ozaukee County. Despite warnings from law enforcement, two kayakers needed to be saved Wednesday afternoon after their vessels turned over. 

The Sheriff's Department says just before 3:00 p.m., they received a report of two kayakers that overturned and were floating downstream in Cedar Creek in the town of Cedarburg. 

As the 57-year-old man and 59-year-old woman continued down the creek, their neighbor spotted them from her kitchen window. 

"I looked out the window and saw a head bobbing in the water," Maureen Hackett said. "I ran out and saw another one and they clinged to a tree. The other kayaker was out already."

The two kayakers happened to be her neighbors. The man was still in the water and was struggling.

"I just ran with [a surfboard] and dog leash," Hackett said. "She decided to come back in to help but she started to float away. I was standing and threw her the surfboard. She grabbed it and I pulled her back in and flung her to the log. It was surprising how fast it dropped."

The water caught Hackett by surprise by both its depth and speed. She too was in need of help as she tried to help her neighbors. 

"I just wanted to make sure he was ok and wouldn't let go," she said. "I know he was too big for us, if he passed out or something, with the current to pull him in on my own. I'm glad we got to him. I put a rope under his arms and tightened it in case he let go. He looked really weak."

The three clung to a nearby log that was floating in the creek. The log itself appeared to be ready to let go of the earth it clung to and fly down the river like the rest of the debris picked up by the storm. 

"I'm humbled by it to be quite honest," Hackett said. "I'm usually aware of water and what it can do. Being out on Lake Michigan, people underestimate that a lot. I underestimated this a lot."

Crews got there quickly and helped fish the kayakers out, even using Hackett's surfboard for help getting the man out. She was able to get out on her own. 

"You can see [how fast it is] but once you're in it, it's a different story," Hackett said. "I consider myself a pretty strong swimmer and there's no way I'd be able to swim against it, let alone with someone else in my arm. I don't think the strongest swimmer could do it. I think we're all lucky."

The woman was treated on scene and the man was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The Sheriff's Department reminds everyone to stay off the water until it recedes.