The paper reviewed several statements Kirk has made over the last ten years regarding his rescue from a capsized boat on Lake Michigan in 1976. Kirk cites the story as the reason he dedicated his life to public service.
But the Tribune's review demonstrates that Kirk seems to have embellished the tale over the years.
Kirk has said that he was rescued at night:
"I lost the halyard and ended up watching the sunset standing on the upside-down boat with only a ski belt on," Kirk said, according to the quote in the story and the recording Landry played for the Tribune.
But witness Bruce Guthrie, who was 13 at the time when he alerted authorities, remembers the entire incident playing out in the afternoon. ...
Pressed on the timing of the rescue, Kirk told the Tribune the magazine reporter must have made a mistake. Informed the interview was recorded, Kirk then said he did not watch the sunset but denied embellishing his story.
Kirk has also claimed his body temperature dropped to 82 degrees, two degrees from the temperature in which you die. However:
Asked how he knows the exact water temperature and body temperature, Kirk said he could not remember where he got the numbers. His campaign later provided a statement from his mother saying she remembered his body temperature was in the 80s when she saw him under a warming blanket at the hospital.
But medical experts said it was extremely unlikely Kirk's body temperature dropped to 82 in the half-hour plus he was in the water, even if it was 42 degrees as Kirk has said. As the body cools below the normal 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit, shivering sets in and hypothermia begins at a much earlier stage — 95 degrees, experts say.
Had Kirk's temperature reached 82 degrees, he likely would have been unable to swim and would have lost consciousness, three experts told the Tribune.
Kirk's campaign e-mailed a response, which included statements from his childhood friend who was with Kirk on the day in question, and from Kirk's mother and another physician. Kirk wrote himself:
Over 30 years ago when I was 16 years old, I nearly drowned in Lake Michigan and was rescued by the Coast Guard.It was a life-changing experience.Multiple statements by eyewitnesses confirm my rescue.Its unfortunate that some reporters had a pre-conceived premise that led to a ridiculous story about an event that is indisputable.Voters will see this story for what it is and I will continue to focus on the issues that matter and how I will serve the people of Illinois.