A toddler was at the center of a close call on Lake Michigan this week after his mother lost hold of an inflatable duck with the young boy on it and the floatie was quickly carried away by the wind.
What began as a peaceful day at the lake in Michigan City, Indiana, quickly turned to panic Monday afternoon.
A witness began waving for help after the mom lost hold of the inflatable duck.
The scene was captured on video, showing the floatie quickly being pulled out into the lake.
“I’m thinking this is going really bad, really fast,” said Dave Benjamin with the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, who was at the beach that day.
The water safety instructor from Homewood began paddling out on a paddle board in an effort to save the child.
Benjamin said things took a terrifying turn when the child fell off the duck as he paddled closer. At that point the child was relying on arm floaties.
“He’s being very active, moving, crying and then he fell off and now I’m just like, you know, we’ve got seconds if those floaties don’t keep him up,” Benjamin said.
Benjamin called to a nearby boat for help as he said the child started bobbing in the water, his hands “in the drowning posture.”
Thankfully, a woman in the boat heard the cries for help and jumped in with a life jacket to save the child.
“If that boat wasn’t there, there’s a strong likelihood that toddler could’ve submerged before I could’ve gotten there,” he said.
It’s not the first time a large floatie has led to a rescue, but a similar incident ended in tragedy this week on Lake Ontario when three men jumped into to save a child from a raft that floated away. The child’s mother had tried to swim after the raft, but didn’t make it.
“It was kind of a windy day and the raft started moving,” said Durham, Ontario police Officer Dave Selby. “It got out about 25-30 feet away from her and I think she realized what happened and she went after the child and she was not a very good swimmer."
Benjamin stressed the importance of being aware of the winds on the lake.