Illinois woman dies after rescuing 9-year-old boy in Wisconsin lake

  • Article by: Associated Press
  • Updated: July 25, 2014 - 8:30 AM

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. — Friends and family are mourning the death of an Illinois woman who drowned after rescuing a 9-year-old boy in a Wisconsin lake.

Arlington Heights resident Karen Wessel, 47, died Tuesday, the (Arlington Heights) Daily Herald reported (http://bit.ly/1rCMLDF ). Wessel was vacationing with her son and sister in Star Lake, Wisconsin.

The Vilas County Sheriff's Department said Wessel jumped in when a godson of a friend was struggling. She pushed the boy to the surface and boaters pulled him from the lake. Wessel then went under.

The sheriff's department said Wessel was taken by helicopter to a hospital in Wausau, Wisconsin, where she was pronounced dead at 5:20 p.m.

Wessel's sister, Janice Potocki, also swam out to save the boy and two other children who were all having trouble in the water.

"She is a hero for saving the life of that 9-year-old boy," Potocki said. "I almost drowned, too. We are totally in shock."

Neighbor Barb McCoy described Wessel as "completely dedicated to her family," and said the neighborhood is devastated.

Wessel is survived by her 9-year-old son and a 17-year-old daughter.

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