Windsurfer rescued from Lake Michigan by Coast Guard

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The U.S. Coast Guard rescued a windsurfer from Lake Michigan near the Evanston lake front Monday afternoon. (WLS)

The U.S. Coast Guard rescued a windsurfer from Lake Michigan near the Evanston lake front Monday afternoon after his mast broke.

The man was plucked from choppy waters by a Coast Guard boat, and was lucky to be spotted as he battled three- to five-foot waves.

"He was really hard to see at first. He was wearing a dark-colored wetsuit and a dark-colored flotation device. It was really hard with the waves to see him," said Boatswain's Mate Michael Desormeaux, U.S. Coast Guard.

The Coast Guard said it received a call from the Evanston Police Department shortly after 5 p.m. saying a good Samaritan had contacted them after his friend texted to say his mast had broken and couldn't make it back to shore near Lee Street Beach.

"I think it was his sail just broke, and then he couldn't get it back up. So he's just stuck drifting with the waves out there, and the wind," said Boatswain's Mate Brendan Smith, U.S. Coast Guard. Boatswain's Mates Tyler O'Shea and Kyle Kral were also on the rescue boat.

The Evanston Fire Department responded to the call and couldn't find the windsurfer from shore, but were able to maintain contact with him via cell phone, officials said. The fire department then relayed information about the man's position to the Coast Guard.

The windsurfer was rescued just before 5:30 p.m. and taken back to the Coast Guard station in Wilmette Harbor, where he refused medical treatment and was released.

The Coast Guard said there's a lesson in this rescue.

"Having that cell phone really helped out. Waterproof cell phone, any type of mode of communication to help call it in, because when you're far enough off shore where people can't really see you, it's great to have that extra form of communication," Desormeaux said.

The Coast Guard says it took about 30 minutes to find him. Another half hour and the sun would have set.
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water rescuelake michiganEvanston
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