Woman treads water three hours in Lake Mead storm

An aerial view of Lake Mead November 6, 2008, in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Arizona. Ethan Miller/Getty Images

LAS VEGAS - A man who became separated from his jet skiing wife Tuesday evening before a sudden storm whipped up 8-foot-tall swells on Lake Mead said he prayed the whole time rescuers searched for her, National Parks Service officials said.

Those prayers were answered when a game warden and a park ranger "miraculously" found the woman without a life jacket in the middle of the lake at about 8 p.m., more than three hours after she started treading water.

"She still had so much energy," parks spokeswoman Christie Vanover said. "The son said there was a guardian angel watching over her."

The rescue of the woman, who was in her 30s and had taken off her life vest to go swimming just before the storm hit, was one of 11 on the lake Tuesday evening. The unexpected storm caused rolling 5-foot-tall waves and prompted 70 calls for distress.

While rangers said they expect inclement weather during southern Nevada's summertime monsoon season, "This one popped up in a matter of five minutes," Vanover said. "The storm just came out of nowhere."

High waters sunk at least one boat, but all the occupants were able to get out safely.

Rangers said they had a scare after one missing group stopped responding to cellphone calls and wasn't found by police teams searching by air. But the group checked in with rescuers at about 11 p.m., saying their cellphone battery had died, but they were safe on shore.

"Life jackets and first responders saved lives today," Vanover said. "Visitors did the right thing when the storm came. They put on their life jackets, they moved to shore and they called for help when they needed it."

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