EVANS, N.Y. (WIVB) — One woman died as she was trying to rescue two girls from Lake Erie Thursday. Town of Evans Police have identified her as 51-year-old Mary Creighton of Buffalo. Creighton tried to help a 10-year-old girl and her 11-year-old daughter, but drowned.
When Lieutenant Bradley DiMartino got on the scene he saw someone’s head at least 100 yards out at Wendt Beach. He pulled the 11-year-old to safety and had some trouble due to the high waves. Officer Jeffrey DeVinney ran in and rescued both of them.
Town of Evans Police Chief Ernest Masullo said his officers acted heroically.
“My officers immediately started looking, running up and down the beach,” he said. “They did notice a young girl bobbing in the water and one of my lieutenants stripped his uniform, stripped his firearm, and ran into the water about a hundred yards out and grabbed the girl. He became in trouble and one of my other officers ran in and rescued both of them.”
Police said the 10-year-old girl was able to make her way to the shore on her own.
“This type of wave action will literally pull you right out, you get an undertow,” said Nick Mecca, the North Evans Fire district chief . “I don’t know if those were the circumstances here, but you get large waves and it pulls people out into deeper water.”
Lake Erie’s waves were nearly five feet tall and winds were gusting up to 26.8 miles per hour during the time of the search, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Police said this all started when people on the beach called 911 around 7:00 p.m. when they realized they couldn’t see the girls out in the water.
Several agencies responded to the call including Lake Erie Beach Volunteer Fire Department, Hamburg Water Rescue Unit, U.S. Coast Guard, and Air One from the Erie County Sheriff’s Office. Conditions were so severe, officials said, a rescue boat capsized in the search.
Rescue Crews told News 4 the children were taken by ambulance to Women and Children’s Hospital.
County Executive Mark Poloncarz said swimming is not allowed at Wendt Beach so there were no life guards on duty.