HURON, Ohio -- For the first time, a local woman is sharing an incredible story of survival, all thanks to a miraculous rescue in dangerous waters.
On Saturday afternoon, Erie County sheriff deputies and officers from Huron and Sandusky police departments jumped into action without thinking about their own safety.
“We got a call about a woman stuck in the rip tides,” said Officer Keith Lobsinger of the Huron Police Department. “We were very close; we had only been out on the lake for a few minutes because of the weather conditions. There were 6-foot waves.”
Lobsinger and Huron Sgt. Nate Orzech spent time earlier that afternoon talking about exactly what they would do if they had to rescue someone in the rough waters. So when they heard the 911 call, the two were ready.
“I grabbed the rescue vest,” Orzech explained. “Within 15 seconds of us getting there, I was jumping in the water.”
An Erie County sheriff’s boat was also nearby. Huron Sgt. Terry Graham was on that boat, and he jumped in to assist.
“Deputy Nick Mazur did an amazing job as our boat operator,” Graham said. “Operating with their sterns towards the waves, three people in the water, ropes everywhere. Deputy Mazur and Officer Lobsinger operated these boats with a high level of skill.”
Orzech was able to get to Kelli Patchen first. Patchen, who had been swimming with her daughter and husband, said she was about to give up when help arrived.
“The wave kept pushing me under the water,” Patchen explained. “I would get up just in time to take a little breath and then wave would just come back over, and it just kept pounding me up and down and up and down.”
She said she was getting exhausted.
“The last time I had gone under, I saw a black background with a white light and my eyes were closed,” Patchen said. “Then I felt Nate grab me; I then saw the sky again.”
Orzech said he was extremely relieved when he reached Patchen.
“If I wasn’t getting water in my face I probably would have screamed because I was so excited I could get to her in time,” Orzech said.
On Thursday, the officers and Patchen met exclusively with the FOX 8 I-Team. Patchen says the men that saved her are all heroes.
“Thank you for giving me a second chance at life,” Patchen said. “I will never forget any of you.”