A Wisconsin woman lost her husband and their three children — all of whom were under the age of 10 — after their kayak capsized during a trip to Lake Superior.
About an hour after the family began their kayak trip at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 30, the weather became abruptly windy and their kayak began filling up with water before eventually capsizing, U.S. Coast Guard Master Chief Alan Haraf told Fox 9 Minneapolis.
“It’s known for having very unforgiving weather and being able to turn in an instant,” U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Justin Sickler told KAAL-TV. He also shared that after the boat began to take on water, the mother who survived got separated from her family because she stayed with the vessel in order to send a text message to reach out for help.
However, due to bad cell reception, it took over four hours for the text to go through, according to the outlet.
After receiving an “alarming text message reading ‘911’ and ‘Michigan Island’ from the woman later that evening, her sister reached out to the authorities on Thursday “at approximately 8:20 p.m.,” according to a statement from the Ashland County Sheriff’s Office.
Police identified the woman who survived as Cari A. Mews, 29, according to a statement from the Ashland County Sherrif’s Office. They also identified the father as Erik D. Fryman, 39, and said that the children — whose names they did not share — were “ages 3, 6, and 9 years old.”
After investigating the call, the La Pointelle Police “determined the family had left the island in a kayak earlier in the day with the intention of touring the Apostle Island” in Lake Superior, the statement continued. A search and rescue mission was then launched by five organizations, including the U.S. Coast Guard and the USGS Research Vessel KIYI.
The mother was the first to be found, after being rescued by the RN KIYI on the west side of Michigan Island just after 10 p.m. Hours later, “the father and two of the children were found deceased in the water after midnight,” but due to “strong thunderstorms,” the couple’s third child wasn’t found until the following morning, authorities said.
According to the Ashland County Sherif’s Office, “A preliminary statement from the mother indicated that the family’s kayak had capsized off the shore of Michigan Island.”
“While attempting to swim to Michigan Island, she became separated from her husband and children. All of the family members were wearing life jackets,” the statement continued, adding that the investigation is still open and an autopsy will be conducted by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office.