BAYFIELD - A father and three children died during a kayak trip Thursday on Lake Superior, leaving only the mother alive from a Wisconsin family of five, according to police.
A news release from the Ashland County Sheriff's Office says the father and all three children died, and only the mother, Cari Mews, 29, survived when the family's kayak capsized in Lake Superior. Mews told police that when attempting to swim to Michigan Island, she became separated from her husband, Erik Fryman, 39, and their children, ages 9, 6 and 3, according to the news release.
At 8:29 p.m. Thursday, the Ashland County Communications Center received a call from Mews' sister saying she sent an alarming text message saying "911 Michigan Island." Police determined the family, which was vacationing at Madeline Island, left Michigan Island with the intention of touring the Apostle Islands on kayak. Mews was found on the west side of Michigan Island at about 10 p.m., the news release said.
The Coast Guard, DNR, Bayfield Fire and Rescue, the National Park Service and USGS vessel KIYI aided in the water and air search.
The bodies of Fryman and two of the children were found just after midnight. Strong thunderstorms hampered search efforts, according to the news release, and the body of the third child was found at about 10 a.m. Friday on the Michigan Island shore. All of the family members were wearing life jackets, according to the news release.
Autopsies are being conducted and the incident is under investigation, according to the new release.
Bob Krumenaker, superintendent of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, told the Star Tribune of Minneapolis for a story published Sunday that it was a sobering reminder of the vastness and danger of the largest of the Great Lakes.
Krumenaker, whose staff assisted with the rescue efforts, said the Apostle Islands are mostly undeveloped and forested, with rocky shorelines and long distances between each island.
"Some of the places that people want to go kayaking are incredibly attractive but also deceptively dangerous," he said. "This particular incident happened in a place that is not often traversed by people on kayaks, and for good reason."
Contributing: The Associated Press
Follow Mitchell A. Skurzewski on Twitter: @MSkurzewski