A mother from Michigan is being hailed as a hero after saving a group of girls from drowning in Lake Michigan.
Alyssa DeWitt, who is five months pregnant with her fourth child, decided to take her three young children to visit First Street Beach in the city of Manistee on May 25. It was “really windy” that day, and DeWitt almost stayed home felt like she “really, really” needed to go.
Once the family arrived at the beach, DeWitt recalled the two halves visitors can spend time at and the family decided on the right side where the pier is located.
“I’ve always taken them to the left, so I’m not sure why I chose that side that day. And I don’t really think it was a coincidence that I did,” she said. DeWitt recalled how she had noticed a group of girls get into the lake and slowly watched them move farther out into the water.
“The next thing I knew the arms were waving in the water, so I kind of knew immediately that they were in trouble,” she said.
DeWitt jumped into action. She first pulled her own children, who are ages 6, 3 and 2, out of the water and instructed them to stay on the sand and to wait there. She then ran to the edge of the pier near where the girls were struggling and called 911, but the high winds made it difficult for the dispatcher to hear her. No one else was on that side of the beach.
“When I got to the edge where they were, they could barely keep their heads above the water at that point. So I knew right away if I don’t do something these kids are going to drown,” DeWitt shared.
With 911 still on the line, she set her phone down and laid on her stomach along the edge of the pier in an attempt to pull the three girls up to safety.
“There were a couple of times where I had gotten them partway up, and the waves would come and they would smash into us and pull them back down and we’d have to start all over.”
One of the girls struggling to stay above the water looked up and told her, “I’m going to die.” DeWitt recalled. “I just kicked it right into mama bear mode,” she recounted. “I looked at her and said, ‘I’m not going to let you die. I’m going to get you out of this water, I promise.’”
Thankfully, her “super strength” kicked in and she pulled all three girls over the pier wall. A fourth girl was able to make her way in enough so that DeWitt could help her out of the water from the shore. Thankfully, emergency crews arrived as soon as the group made it onto the sand. The girls suffered minor injuries while DeWitt and her unborn baby were also deemed okay.
In addition, she mentioned how she was also grateful that her three young children, who waited on the beach during the traumatic event, also stayed safe.
“At the end of the pier watching, my 2-year-old was pretty freaked out and he kept trying to run out onto the pier to me,” DeWitt said. “My 6-year-old would just pick him up and take him back to the sand for me. She stayed really calm. I was super proud of her.”
The day of the rescue, DeWitt shared an emotional post on Facebook speaking on the experience.
And only a week later, DeWitt admitted the situation had begun to really sink in after thinking about “all the different ways that it could have gone,” including if she too had gotten pulled over the edge into the water with her kids still on the beach.
She stressed water safety to fellow parents in hopes of preventing any future incidents.
“I know those big waves are fun.. and you never expect to find yourself in that situation.. but it can happen so fast,” DeWitt wrote in the post. “It’s not worth the risk, it’s just not. God did his thing today, and he put me exactly where I needed to be, once again… I’m loving my babies a little harder tonight, I’m sure those parents are too. God is good,” she concluded.
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.
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