Wife Recalls Rescuing Husband From Lake

Mary Kovats knew something was wrong when her husband and two friends didn't return to shore after a storm

By Lauren Jiggetts
|  Friday, May 13, 2011  |  Updated 5:48 PM CDT
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Mary Kovats explains how she found and rescued her husband and two of his boater friends after their boat tipped over Wednesday night during a storm.

Mary Kovats explains how she found and rescued her husband and two of his boater friends after their boat tipped over Wednesday night during a storm.

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Mary Kovats and her husband, Peter, are experienced boaters. So as storms rolled in Wednesday night, they both grew concerned -- Kovats on shore at Montrose Harbor and Peter Kovats from a sailboat with two friends on Lake Michigan.

Wednesday was Kovats' husband's 62nd birthday, and he went out on the boat with friends to celebrate. Kovats tells NBC Chicago she was supposed to meet him at Montrose Harbor to take him to dinner, but he didn't show.

"I called them because I saw the storms coming," she said. "They said they saw it too and that they were heading back in, but the storm came a little quicker than planned. I called again and they said, 'No we are right here, right by the harbor mouth.' But they didn't come in. I knew something was wrong."

She kept waiting and waiting, and the boat never docked. After the storm passed, Kovats and two boater friends jumped on another boat and went looking for them.

They found the boat capsized about a mile offshore but didn't see anyone on board. They called the Coast Guard, who found Peter Kovats unconscious, wearing a life preserver about a half mile from shore. They pulled him onto the boat and found the other two men in the water, also wearing preservers.

Kovats says the life preservers probably saved their lives.

"They tried to right the boat 10 times, but it was full of water and they couldn't. They were shaking and shivering so much, they made the decision to try and swim to shore. We found them between the boat and the shore."

All three were taken to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, two in critical condition and one in serious condition. The three were apparently injured when the boat struck them as it overturned.

The two friends were released from the hospital. Peter Kovats is in intensive care but stable. Kovats says she's hopeful he'll get to come back home Thursday.

Recalling her actions, Kovats says that she did what she had to do, though she's still shaken up by it all. "We had to do it," she said. "They weren't safe."

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