Woman Drowns In Rescue Attempt
RUTHVEN A Carroll woman drowned after she helped rescue a youth in distress at Lost Island Lake late last week.
According to Clay County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Brady Hawley, the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office was notified of a possible drowning on the west side of Lost Island Lake, north of Ruthven. The Clay County Sheriff’s Office was notified of the call and deputies from both Sheriff’s Offices responded along with Dickens and Ruthven Fire and Rescue and Spencer and Ruthven Ambulance Services.
When rescuers arrived at the scene, a female victim, identified by the Clay County Sheriff’s Office as 56-year old Elizabeth Ann McCorkle of Carroll, was on shore and was receiving medical attention from Emergency Medical Responders. McCorkle was transported to the Palo Alto County Hospital in Emmetsburg by ambulance and was later transferred to Mercy Medical Center in Mason City, where she died later that evening.
An investigation by the Clay County Sheriff’s Office determined that shortly after 2:00 p.m., a 13-year old male was swimming in Lost Island Lake when he became distressed and called out for help. McCorkle either heard or saw the youth struggling and immediately entered the lake in an attempt to rescue him. During this rescue attempt, McCorkle was able to assist the youth to the surface, where he again called out for help. Occupants of a passing boat heard the second call for help and a person in that boat entered the water to assist the 13 year old who was helped into the rescuer’s boat.
Unfortunately, the rescuer was not immediately aware of McCorkle’s presence in the water and only learned of it after rescuing the teenager. After seeing McCorkle, the boaters attempted to help her into their boat, but when they were unable to do so, they helped her to shore where bystanders aided in removing McCorkle from the lake.
“This was a tragic event,” noted Deputy Hawley. “Water activities are fun but we cannot lose sight of the eminent danger that water presents. I do not question that the efforts of Ms. McCorkle saved the life of the young man, however ultimately, she gave her own life in doing so.”
The Clay County Sheriff’s Office stresses a common rule regarding water rescue. Whenever possible, “Throw, don’t go!” with regards to assisting struggling swimmers. A rescuer remains safest by throwing a rescue device, any floatation device, as opposed to entering the close proximity of a struggling and possibly panicked swimmer.