It was a small flash of light, likely from her cellphone, that helped rescuers locate Cari Mews in Lake Superior Thursday night, suffering from hypothermia six hours after her kayak had capsized. But while the 29-year-old Wisconsin mom was lucky to be found in time, the other members of her family—39-year-old husband Erik Fryman and their three kids, 9-year-old Kyra, 5-year-old Annaliese, and 3-year-old Jansen—weren't, after a family kayaking trip gone terribly wrong. Per the Minneapolis Star Tribune, authorities say the family had launched their kayak from Madeline Island, headed for Michigan Island about 4 miles away, around 1pm, but at around 4pm, the kayak tipped over after wind and choppy surf dumped water into the vessel. Mews, whose cellphone had been in a waterproof bag, managed to fire off two texts to her sister.
"911," then "Michigan Island" were the two messages Bobi Jo Mews received from her sister, she tells WCCO. But Bobi Jo Mews didn't get the messages until several hours after they were sent due to spotty service, a US Coast Guard rep tells CNN, and although her call to authorities sent rescuers out to the lake to find her family members, it was only Cari Mews who was recovered as she tried to make her way to the shores of Michigan Island. The bodies of Fryman, Annaliese, and Jansen were found just after midnight, while Kyra's body was recovered the next morning on the Michigan Island beach. All five had been wearing life jackets, but Cari Mews was the only one found fully clothed—her kids had been in bathing suits, while her husband had only pants on. "I think hypothermia was a huge factor [in their deaths], especially for the children," another Coast Guard rep tells the Star Tribune. (Read more kayaking stories.)