By Brad Edwards

(CBS) – A northwest suburban mom gave her life to save a 9-year-old child from drowning earlier this week.

Karen Wessel of Arlington Heights, 47, died after she went after the child in Star Lake, Wisc. on Tuesday.

It happened at a family getaway. Janice Potocki, Wessel’s sister, says three children who had been playing on a sandbar got too far out in the water and had to be rescued.

Potocki says she got two children back safely but the third, who did not know how to swim, struggled with her. She became disoriented and almost drowned before Wessel jumped in to help.

Her sister likewise had a hard time bringing the youngster to safety.

“He was trying to crawl up her to get air, and he pushed her under too many times,” Potocki told CBS 2’s Brad Edwards Thursday. “By the time they her out of the water, her heart had already stopped once.”

Efforts to revive Wessel did not succeed, she said, and she was pronounced dead an hour later after her organs failed.

The 9-year-old boy she saved reportedly is doing fine.

Ms. Wessel leaves behind two kids; a scholarship fund is in the works.

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