Kayaker, bystanders rescue 13-year-old girl near Pennoyer Park in Kenosha
Bystanders say she was about 50-60 feet offshore when she got caught in the current, not far from where the Pike River feeds into Lake Michigan.
Mount Pleasant resident Michael Bain was at Pannoyer Park with his family, when he saw the young girl drowning.
“All of a sudden there was a scream of terror and I saw a girl struggling tremendously,” Bain said.
He flagged down a kayaker to help. At first, the kayaker, John Raquet, thought he was just going after a floating pool noodle he saw, but then he saw someone in the water and jumped into the water.
“I could see the hair and could see a girls face under the water,” Raquet said. “I saw bubbles coming out of her mouth and I knew it was time to get in there and try to save her.”
Raquet was wearing a lifejacket and began to swim towards shore carrying the 13-year-old, but it wasn't easy.
“The current was taking him away and he was fighting a losing battle,” Bain noticed from the shore. “That's when my son said hey let’s make a human chain.”
Bain’s son, Dylan, led the efforts. About a dozen beach-goers all linked arms from the beach out to Raquet and the 13-year-old girl. Michael Bain said the girl’s father was part of the chain, while her mother was hysterical from the beach.
“My first impulse was I’m probably going to watch somebody die right now,” Michael Bain said. “That scared me but we kept going.”
In the water, Raquet said he was not sure if the girl was conscious, but he talked to her and said he was confident he could get her to shore.
“I just kept telling her breathe every couple seconds,” Raquet said. “Keep breathing I would say, 'keep breathing, keep breathing.'”
“Once we were able to grab John we all yelled, ‘hey pull!’ and we all pulled and we pulled them right into shore,” Dylan Bain said.
Bystanders say the girl regained consciousness on the beach and her parents took her to the hospital. The Kenosha Fire Department says they were called to the scene, but when they arrived the girl’s parents were already driving her to the hospital.
The girl's dad met up with Raquet back at the beach later that afternoon. He learned the girl had just turned 13-years-old the day before.
“He said your our angel,” Raquet said.
Raquet says he does not know the girl’s last name but hopes The Fourth wasn’t the last time he sees her.
“I want to be invited to her Quinceañera,” he said.
Officials say the Pennoyer Park area is not safe for swimming. Two people have already died in the area, one on Memorial Day and another person on July 2.