David A. Wagner helped to save Jacob I. MacLean from drowning, Grand Marais, Michigan, August 7, 2000. Swimming in Lake Superior, Jacob, 9, and his father encountered a strong current and high waves that prevented them from returning to shore. A man saw them from a bluff overlooking the lake and, having alerted another man who was nearby, responded to the beach with a canoe. Their attempts to launch the craft against the breakers were not successful. Having donned life jackets, they then dived into the lake and swam to Jacob, who was by then at least 300 feet out. After the men put a life jacket on Jacob, the three attempted to return to shore but became separated by the rough water. Meanwhile, Wagner, 46, technical instructor, and his teenage son, at a campsite nearby, were alerted to the situation. They ran to the beach and, donning life jackets and taking the canoe with them for use as a flotation device, entered the water, despite its 54-degree temperature. They swam to Jacob, then, holding onto the canoe with him, returned toward shore, fighting the current and overtaking waves. Wagner and his son discarded the canoe near shore, and the son swam Jacob to wadable water, where they were assisted from the lake, as was Wagner. The two other men swam with difficulty toward shore and likewise were aided from the water, by others using rope. Jacob, Wagner, and the other rescuers were cold and tired but otherwise uninjured. Jacob’s father drowned.
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