Two women rescued from leaky rowboat after trip to Turnip Rock

Rescuers found the mother and daughter 1 mile offshore well after dark near Port Austin
Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 12:48 PM EDT
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PORT AUSTIN, Mich. (WJRT) - Police say two women taking a leaky row boat to Turnip Rock in Lake Huron nearly didn’t make it back alive Monday evening.

The Huron County Sheriff’s Office and Port Austin Fire Department rescued the 35-year-old woman and her 64-year-old mother from a rowboat taking on water offshore from Port Austin around 7:45 p.m. Police believe the boat sank in Lake Huron after the rescue.

Huron County Sheriff Kelly Hanson said the women left Port Austin around noon in the 10-foot boat with the misunderstanding that they would arrive at Turnip Rock in about 45 minutes. However, he said the trip there took several hours.

They started back toward Port Austin against a stiff southerly wind, causing both to get exhausted. The 64-year-old also became incapacitated because she didn’t get her medication, Hanson said.

The women called 911 from a cell phone on the boat, which brought a response from the sheriff’s office in a 31-foot patrol boat and Port Austin firefighters in an inflatable rescue boat. Firefighters found the women well after darkness had fallen about 1 mile north of Port Austin.

An ambulance transported the 64-year-old woman to McLaren Thumb Region hospital while the 35-year-old declined medical attention on shore.

Hanson said the women both were wearing life jackets, but water temperatures in Lake Huron are down the upper 50s. The boat was full of water and he believes the women would have developed hypothermia if rescuers hadn’t found them.

He advised anyone planning to engage in paddle sports on Lake Huron to evaluate their skills, equipment and emergency options before setting out.

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