Drone credited with finding missing paddle boarders on Lake Michigan

NOW: Drone credited with finding missing paddle boarders on Lake Michigan

WHITEFISH BAY, Wis. (CBS 58) -- A caution remains in effect for Lake Michigan Tuesday night, July 6.

Waves of up to four feet are expected. Water rescue teams are hoping people abide by the warning and stay away. 

Two women nearly drowned off in Whitefish Bay on the Fourth of July. The women were on paddle boards about a half mile off shore. They are lucky to be alive, thanks to a couple of officers and their drone. 

With two lives on the line, Glendale police officer Andrew Reischl had his eyes glued to an eight inch LCD screen Sunday night.

"It definitely was some tense moments," North Shore Fire and Rescue Battalion Chief Dan Tyk said. 

Two women on paddle boards, both in their 40s and in town from Nebraska, were desperate for help.

"This is the one that actually went out in Whitefish Bay," Glendale Police Officer Andrew Reischl said.

The women were struggling after one lost her paddle. 

“She was trying to paddle by hand and every time she would paddle by hand she said she would just get pushed out by the waves,” said Chief Tyk.

The 911 call went to North Shore Fire & Rescue, they asked for help and Milwaukee divers, the DNR's boat, and Glendale police all responded near Big Bay Park. 

"Our dispatcher who was in communication with the paddle boarders was able to get them to turn on a flashlight on,” said Chief Tyk.

“Had a real faint blue light on it that my partner was able to see and he just guided the drone directly to it.,” said Officer Reischl.

In complete darkness on the lake, the drone and that faint light from her portable speaker were life savers. The unit itself costing about a thousand dollars, saved the cost of manpower and the need for more expensive equipment in the search.

"It extends what we can search a lot more so in that situation for the paddle boarders, to get a helicopter up there we're talking thousands of dollars per hour to have that thing in the air, whereas this, it cost us as much as it takes to recharge the battery,” said Officer Reischl.

The rescued women were in good condition and did not need to go to the hospital.

Glendale police actually have two drones. One goes up to 40 miles an hour and can capture 4K images. 

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