Christopher Bischoff and Kelsey Schwuchow

Christopher Bischoff
Kelsey Schwuchow

Two preteen sisters were playing in Lake Michigan off of Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Aug. 27, 2023, when they both began to struggle at a point beyond wadable water. They fought to remain above the surface in the choppy current when their stepmother entered the water to help them, but she quickly also struggled in the water. Earlier that day, weather officials warned of life-threatening waves and dangerous currents in the lake. Two off-duty sheriff’s deputies from Kenosha, Christopher Bischoff, 34, and Kelsey Schwuchow, 30, were on the beach when they were alerted to the situation. Both waded into the surf and swam out to the girls. Bischoff reached one girl and tucked her against his body, while Schwuchow concurrently went to her sister and grabbed onto her. Bischoff attempted to swim toward shore but had difficulty swimming with the panicked girl. He tried to submerge while holding the girl with her head above the water, intermittently resurfacing for air himself, and pushed her forward while walking underwater. He quickly tired after he struggled toward shallow water. He swallowed water, resurfaced, and separated from the girl. Schwuchow tried to swim with the panicked sister toward shore, but she too swallowed water and separated from the girl who remained near her sister and stepmother. As the waves moved both girls closer to shore, Bischoff regained a hold of the girl he initially helped, towed her into wadable water, and she returned to the beach. Schwuchow grasped the sister’s arm and pulled her to Bischoff’s partner to guide her back to the beach. Schwuchow then swam to the stepmother, who was floating on her back, and dragged her into shallow water to be helped by her partner and Bischoff. Both girls and the stepmother were taken to a hospital for treatment. Bischoff and Schwuchow were nearly exhausted and went to the hospital as a precaution, where they were discharged that evening.