Mom's Heroic Final Moments Remembered

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Mom's Heroic Final Moments Remembered

by CBS Local 2:22 mins

Mom's Heroic Final Moments Remembered

by CBS Local 2:22 mins

A single-mom from Chicago is being remembered as a hero after drowning while saving the life of a relative's 9-year-old boy. As her friends tell it Karen Wessel, who worked as a legal secretary, was an exceptional woman in many ways. “She saved us every day she came into work, in one fashion or another, in a business setting. So the fact that she gave her life up to save children doesn’t surprise us at all,” friend and co-worker Tom Cronin said. Wessel, 47, was raising two children as a single mom. She was very tight with her family, especially her sister, Janice Potocki. Wessel, her son, her sister, a friend, and two other children had traveled to a family vacation spot in Star Lake, Wisconsin, on Tuesday. The three kids were playing on a sandbar in the lake, but got too far out in the water, so Potocki and Wessel went into the water to rescue them. Wessel and Potocki managed to get two of the kids to safety, but the third – a 9-year-old boy – did not know how to swim, and was panicking as Potocki tried to get him out of the water. He struggled with her, and she became disoriented and nearly drowned herself before Wessel came to help her. As he struggled to use her own weight to hold him above the water, he continued to struggle. Although nearby boaters showed up to pull the boy out, Wessel went under. “He was trying to crawl up her to get air, and he pushed her under too many times,” Potocki told reporters. “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 boy who nearly drowned was doing well on Friday. At Wessel’s office on Friday, her desk was still dotted with Post-It notes, and to do lists. Co-workers said Wessel was the type who gave of herself always. Potocki said anyone who didn’t meet her sister “missed out on one of the kindest and most thoughtful people they will ever have the chance to know.” A scholarship fund has been set up for Wessel’s two children – her 9-year-old son Michael, and her 17-year-old daughter Elizabeth. If you would like to make a donation to the Karen Wessel Children’s Fund, contact the Village Bank & Trust of Arlington Heights, at 847-870-5000.

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