KEWAUNEE COUNTY - A weekend camping trip ends tragically when the van a Green Bay man was driving veered off a road and into the Kewaunee marina with his son inside. Authorities found the body of the 40-year-old man at around 7 p.m. Sunday. But the five-year-old boy is alive, thanks to some quick-thinking campers.
According to the Kewaunee Police Department, the call came in around 8:30 Sunday morning for a van that went out of control and landed in the water near the Kewaunee Harbor with two people inside.
Police still aren't sure what caused the van to leave Lakeshore Road, but are crediting some campers with the boy's rescue.
"Well, we were just packing up, getting ready to leave," explained Rafe King, in town for a weekend salmon fishing and camping trip with his friend Chuck Ramsden.
King says the two were packing up to go back to Minnesota when they heard a crashing sound.
"I looked across the harbor here and saw a van going, actually into the harbor," said King. "We got in the car and got there as soon as we could. Once we got there all we saw was one boy trying to hang on to the side of the boat and we lifted him out of the water."
"Chuck actually got to him first. Grabbed his arm and we both lifted him up out of the water. He was really shaken," King said of the young boy. "But he was just saying he couldn't find his mom and dad."
King says his friend Ramsden was also taken to the hospital as a precaution because he was extremely shook up by the ordeal.
"He was transported to a local Green Bay hospital where he was later released," said Kewaunee Police Chief Frank Salentine of the boy.
Salentine says when police arrived on scene, they discovered the boy and his father were the only two in the van when it veered off the road. The vehicle hit a tree and clipped a sail boat moored in the channel of the Kewaunee marina before plunging underwater.
"We ask everyone to say some prayers for this family," said Salentine. "This is a very trying time for them."
For much of the day, divers searched the water as the scene transitioned from a rescue to a recovery mission. All the while, dozens of watched from across the channel as crews attempted to recover the van, and hopefully the man's body.
At around 4:30 p.m., the vehicle rose to the surface with the help of airbags. Towed to the marina launch, authorities then discovered the man was not inside. His body was later found around 7 p.m. in about 16 feet of water near the crash site.
Though a somber end, King says he's glad he got there when he could.
"I'm afraid if we had went a longer distance or something would have stopped us from [getting to him], it wouldn't have been as good an outlook," said King.
The boy was released to family members.
Police would not speculate as to the cause of why the man may have lost control of the van.
Authorities are not releasing the man's name pending notification of family.
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