Highland Park boy meets Coast Guard rescuers who saved his life

Highland Park boy meets Coast Guard rescuers who saved his life

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

A north suburban Highland Park boy got to meet his heroes Tuesday. They are the men who rescued him and two other kayakers that were lost on Lake Michigan.

The boy’s parents wanted to tell his story so that other boaters will stay safe out on the lake.

Tommy Alter, 9, couldn't wait to show the coast guard team the Lego helicopter he built, just like the one that came to his rescue.

Tommy, his 9-year old cousin Zachary and his aunt were rescued from Lake Michigan July 11 after spending a night stranded on the lake. Their rented kayaks drifted 13 miles away from Peninsula State Park in Door County, Wisconsin.

The next morning, they were spotted and a diver put them in a rescue basket.

“They were very coherent, knew what was going on, get in the basket -- it's that easy,” said U.S. Coast Guard Derek Johnson.

The crew that rescued the group was the fourth crew to go out on the lake. The kayakers were on the water 17 hours; it was windy, the water was cold, they had a lot going against them, but they did something right.

“They had their life jackets, they stayed with the boat, and they huddled to stay warm,” said U.S. Coast Guard Lt. Dan Schrader.

The coast guard also advised boaters to carry a marine radio or flares, because a cell phone won't work off shore.

“The lake is a dangerous place, although we thought it was calm, conditions can change very quickly,” mother Leslie Alter said.

Leslie’s husband Jay also weighed in on the incident.

“You don't realize when you're looking at the kayak on the deck, should be easy, but it's harder than you think,” Jay said.

Tommy told his parents it was an adventure. For the cameras, though, his comment was brief.

“Thank you everybody that helped me,” Tommy said.

Tommy also said he's not afraid of water, but next time he kayaks, it will be on a smaller lake.

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