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Beachgoers recount saving 78-year-old woman having medical emergency in Lake Michigan

Robyn Sietsema was one of many beachgoers who leapt into action after seeing the woman face down in Lake Michigan.

SAUGATUCK, Mich. — A 78-year-old woman is recovering after beachgoers rescued her when she had an emergency in the water.

The incident happened at Oval Beach Tuesday evening in Allegan County.

Robyn Sietsema was one of many who leapt into action after seeing the woman face down in Lake Michigan.

Sietsema and her partner were at the north end of Oval Beach when they saw the woman in the water.  

"The water was pretty calm and it wasn't deep water," said Sietsema. "She was swimming. Very relaxed and her eyes were open." 

When they returned to shore, that's when they saw the woman was unresponsive. 

"At that point we made the decision for him to run for help and for me to enter the water."

She said beachgoers helped pull the woman to shore and then took turns doing CPR. Emergency services arrived and took the 78-year-old woman of Illinois to the hospital where she's recovering.

Sietsema said she didn't hesitate to help.

"It was something that definitely had to be done," she said. 'You don't really have a lot of time to process any of it. You do it so it's like a natural instinct."

A spokesperson with the sheriff's office says the woman was in the water for one to five minutes.

There wasn't rough water, rather, she was on a paddleboard or kayak when she suffered a medical emergency and then fell in.

"It is common we have people take action," said Lt. Brett Ensfield with the Allegan County Sheriff's Office. "A lot of people are trained in CPR. I would suggest people go out and get that training if they can. It may help save a loved one someday." 

"Everyone was very calm, organized, and had a mission. We were able to execute it to the best of our abilities not being professionals," said Sietsema.

Police say another good pointer is to bring an acquaintance or friend with you to the beach so they can keep an eye on you at all times and call for help if needed.

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