Woman Dies After Trying To Rescue Boy

Ruthven, Iowa — An attempted water rescue in Lost Island Lake on Friday has claimed the life of a Carroll woman.
fatal ambulance II
The Clay County Sheriff’s Office reports that in the 2 PM hour on Friday, July 24th, they were told via the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office of a possible drowning in Lost Island Lake, in Clay County. When deputies arrived, 56-year-old Elizabeth Ann McCorkle of Carroll, was on shore and was receiving medical attention from Emergency Medical responders. McCorkle was transported to the Palo Alto County Hospital in Emmetsburg before being transferred to Mercy Medical Center in Mason City, where she succumbed to her injuries Friday evening.

After an investigation, deputies believe that shortly after 2:00 PM, a 13-year-old boy was swimming in Lost Island Lake, when he became distressed and called out for assistance. McCorkle heard or saw the struggling swimmer and entered the lake in a rescue attempt. During this rescue attempt, McCorkle was able to assist the swimmer to the surface, where he again called out for help. Occupants of a passing boat heard the second call for help and an occupant of the boat entered the water to assist, and the boy was secured and assisted into the rescuer’s boat. The rescuer was not immediately aware of McCorkle’s presence in the water, and only learned of it after rescuing the teenager. Upon seeing McCorkle, the rescuer took steps to assist McCorkle but when unable to get McCorkle into the rescue boat, assisted her to shore, where additional bystanders assisted in removing McCorkle from the lake.

Chief Deputy Brad Hawley of the Clay County Sheriff’s Office offered this regarding the incident. “This is a tragic event. Water activities are fun but we cannot lose sight of the eminent danger that water presents. I do not question that the efforts of Ms. McCorkle saved the life of a teenager today, however ultimately, giving her own.”

The Clay County Sheriff’s Office wants to remind the public of a common rule regarding water rescue. Whenever possible, “Throw, don’t go!” with regards to assisting struggling swimmers. They say a rescuer remains safest by throwing a rescue device, any flotation device, as opposed to entering the close proximity of a struggling and possibly panicked swimmer.

The Clay County Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office, the Dickens and Ruthven Fire and Rescue squads.