After trying to rescue two young girls from the choppy waters of Lake Erie Thursday night, a 51-year-old woman – and mother to one of the children – drowned.
The woman has been identified as Mary E. Creighton, of Buffalo, New York. The names of the two girls, ages 10 and 11, have not yet been released.
Creighton’s body was located by Erie County’s Air One helicopter a mile away from Wendt Beach, the location of the incident (and a county property where swimming is not allowed due to rocky terrain).
First responders received a call around 7 p.m. notifying them of the accident.
Police officials tell PEOPLE that the 10-year-old made it to shore by herself and Lt. Bradley DiMartino of Evans Police Department swam in the deadly waters to pull in the 11-year-old. Hamburg Water Rescue crews recovered Creighton’s body from a jet-ski.
“It was hard to see them with these huge waves, they must have been six or seven feet high. It was extremely dangerous,” says Evans Police Chief Ernie Masullo.
WIVB reports that Lake Erie’s waves were nearly five feet tall and winds were gusting up to 26.8 miles per hour at the time of the search.
According to Masullo, the two girls have returned home after being treated at Women and Children’s Hospital in Buffalo.