A family of five had planned a three-hour kayaking adventure on Lake Superior to the Apostle Islands, but tragedy struck when their kayak capsized and the family was separated in the water.
According to the Star Tribune, the family has been identified as 39-year-old Eric Fryman, 29-year-old Cari Mews-Fryman, and their three children: 9-year-old Kyra, 5-year-old Annaliese, and 3-year-old Jansen.
Capt. Joe Walters heard a distress signal issued for a family that had gone into the water approximately two miles from his location, and quickly joined the search with his boat. Minutes later, a flashing light on the dark water led him to Mews-Fryman, who by that time, was hypothermic. Walters pulled her on board, and learned that her husband and three children were still missing.
When the kayak had capsized, Fryman and the children had swam toward Michigan Island, while she returned to the kayak to retrieve the emergency bag and the light to draw attention to them in the dark. She had then turned to catch up with them, but couldn’t find them.
The waves on the lake separated them, and it wasn’t long before she could no longer see or hear them across the water.
Hours later, four bodies were recovered from the lake, and it was confirmed that they were the missing family members.
While still in the water, Mews-Fryman had texted her sister cryptic messages reading “911” and “Michigan Island,” but the messages had taken five-hours to go through. Her sister quickly alerted emergency services. The family set out at approximately 1 p.m. in the afternoon, and the Coast Guard only received the distress signal around 8:45 p.m. Walters pulled Mews-Fryman from the water at 10 p.m.
The bodies of her family were found after midnight, as the search was hindered by severe thunderstorms lashing the area.
The family had been vacationing on Madeline Island when they decided to undertake the four-mile journey on their kayak.
“Her entire family was just erased,” Walters said of the horrific accident. “And if she didn’t have that flashlight, I don’t think we would have ever seen her. It was black dark.”
The Ashland County Sheriff’s Office and two local coroners are investigating the incident. The cause of the accident and the cause of the four deaths has yet to be determined.
Mews-Fryman and her husband had been married for just a year, but had been together for almost a decade.