MANISTEE, Mich. — Two members from Coast Guard Station Manistee, Michigan entered the waters of Lake Michigan to save two women caught in the surf off of Fifth Avenue Beach, in Manistee, Sunday.
At approximately 8:30 p.m. on Sunday, U.S. Coast Guard Station Manistee received a call from Manistee County Central Dispatch that there were two people in need of help at Fifth Avenue Beach, mere feet from the Coast Guard Station.
Petty Officers 3rd Class Adrian Ledesma and Benjamin Mattson responded to the call by quickly assembling their Beach Rescue Gear, donning their lifejackets and rushing outside to the beach.
Earlier in the day, the Coast Guard warned the public to take caution as hazardous weather passed through the area after U.S. Coast Guard Station Frankfort, Michigan, responded when two people were swept off a breakwall due to high wind and waves just before 9 a.m.
The two Coast Guardsmen, along with a member from the Manistee County Sheriff’s Department immediately observed the two women in distress, 50-75 yards from the beach, in breaking 4-foot waves.
The two petty officers made the decision to enter the water and save the lives of the two women.
“We saw people in trouble, so we geared up and did what we signed up to do – save lives,” Ledesma said.
“All I was thinking was that we’re going to get these people to safety, and we’re not stopping until we do,” Mattson added.
After making it out to the 71-year-old grandmother and her 20-year-old granddaughter, Mattson and Ledesma were able to guide them safely back onto shore where local Emergency Medical Services were waiting on the beach. Both were released in good health.
“Each case is unique,” said Captain Amy Cocanour, commander of Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan. “While this rescue wasn’t standard operating procedure, we empower our crews out in the field to make decisions based upon on scene risk assessments. I’m proud of their heroic actions. The judgment and bravery shown by Petty Officers Ledesma and Mattson resulted in two lives saved on Lake Michigan.”