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2 People Survive 7 Hours In Lake Michigan, Rescued By Coast Guard

CHICAGO (CBS)-- Two people survived seven hours in Lake Michigan on Tuesday, after they were separated from their personal watercraft.

The Coast Guard rescued the two survivors near Waukegan around 7 p.m. Tuesday night, hours after their personal watercraft was located.

Coast Guard officials received a report around 4 p.m. of an unmanned personal watercraft that was located approximately three miles from Lake Forest Beach two hours earlier.

According to the Coast Guard, two cell phones, keys and a wallet with identification were found inside the unmanned watercraft.

lake michigan rescue

A Coast Guard helicopter from Traverse City, Michigan, began conducting a track line search from Naval Station Great Lakes to the last known position of the personal water craft. Approximately two and a half miles into the search, the helicopter crew located two individuals wearing life jackets and waving their arms. A rescue swimmer was deployed and hoisted Kathleen and Michael Root around 7 p.m.

The survivors were transported to a local emergency medical services where they were treated for hypothermia.

According to the Coast Guard, the two survivors fell into the water and separated from their watercraft, and had been in the water about seven hours before they were rescued.

The couple said they were only think of one thing, their three young children.

"We didn't realize how bad it was until we got onto land and everyone was telling us the horror stories of the lake and how people don't really survive what we encountered," Michael said. "My wife was crying with tears of joy she knew it was over and she could finally go home."

His wife Kathleen said it was a "surreal moment."

CBS 2 spoke with captain who made the call to the Coast Guard. Kathleen and Michael credit him for helping to save their lives.

He said the rescue was nothing short of miraculous.

"I'm struck initially by the timing of it, I feel divine intervention was involved," Captain Gareth Stamm said.

The couple also wanted to thank the Coast Guard, the Navy and anyone else who helped.

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