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Wife On Boat Rescue: ‘Everything Went Beautifully’

Mary Kovats rescued her husband and two others from Lake Michigan. (Credit: corinthian.org)

Mary Kovats rescued her husband and two others from Lake Michigan. (Credit: corinthian.org)

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CHICAGO (WBBM/CBS) – More details are coming out about a Chicago woman’s rescue of her husband and two other men Wednesday night, after a storm had overturned their sailboat on Lake Michigan.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Steve Miller reports, the way Mary Kovats tells the story, it almost sounds matter-of-fact – taking a boat out into the lake and looking for her husband and two friends somewhere off Montrose Harbor.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Steve Miller reports

But she says the situation was not at all matter-of-fact.

“It was pretty scary. But they all fine, and they had on their life jackets, and the two gentlemen who helped me were really good sailors, and we all know how to handle boats, and we’ve all taken the Coast Guard rescue courses, so everything went beautifully,” Kovats said.

CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole reports on Thursday, their boat, the Peter Pan, was drying out Thursday after capsizing. If not for Mary Kovats, her husband and the other two men who had been on the boat may have died.

Lake Michigan’s waters had been just as calm as they were the following day when Peter Kovats and two friends set out for his 62nd birthday sail. When bad weather headed toward the lake, Mary first telephoned Peter.

“I called him about minutes before the storm hit,” she said. ”He said, ‘No, we’re fine. Don’t worry, we’re just about there.’”

But 45 minutes later, with no signs of their return and daylight waning, Mary rushed to Montrose Harbor, jumping into this motorboat with two friends from their club. A half mile out she found Peter and his friends floating in the rough waters with their life jackets — she reached her husband first.

Peter Kovats, tried to make it ashore before the storm, but he couldn’t. When his wife reached him, he was in the water, but breathing.

“He was unconscious, but we just had to go get the other two guys,” she said. “He was breathing, so we just went and got the other two guys we had to get them to shore and out of the water.”

At the Corinthian Yacht Club, where Mary has sailed for 20 years, her heroism comes as no surprise.

“That’s typical of her,” said Richard Hauge. “She’s a person of action – very decisive, very level-headed –and I am not surprised at all.”

“Honestly, I am not surprised at all she would do that for any of us,” added Dave Medendrop.

As of Thursday evening, Peter was still in the intensive care unit at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, but he was up and talking and expected to be all right.

Their friends, Dan Tenuta and Will Jablonski, were both treated and released.