Joseph T. Mathews attempted to save Christian E. Mortensen from drowning, Zion, Illinois, July 6, 1994. Mortensen, 26, was caught by the very strong currents of Lake Michigan while attempting to rescue a friend who was swept into the lake by the breach waters of the Dead River. After another man entered the lake in an unsuccessful attempt to rescue Mortensen, one of Mortensen’s friends, Mathews, 33, disabled janitor, entered the water. Almost immediately he too became caught by the current, which submerged him repeatedly, and he lost sight of Mortensen. Mathews grasped a branch that was floating in the lake and held to it until a rescue boat arrived and recovered him and the friend that Mortensen had attempted to save. They were taken to the hospital, where Mathews was treated for hypothermia and ingestion of lake water. Mortensen was recovered from the lake the next day. He had drowned.
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