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Two Harbors teen rescues boy in Burlington Bay

(From left) Lincoln, Dennis, Emerson, Harrison and Danielle Massie were vacationing in Two Harbors when a wind blew Lincoln well off shore in Burlington Bay. (Photo courtesy of Danielle Massie)1 / 2
Two Harbors High School student Kate Thomasen swam out into Burlington Bay Monday to help a 9-year-old boy back to shore. (Photo courtesy of Dan Thomasen)2 / 2

Dennis and Danielle Massie have been bringing their kids to Two Harbors for eight years, but this year the trip took a dangerous turn while their son Lincoln was playing in Burlington Bay Monday.

The Massies were camping at the Burlington Bay Campground with some friends from their home in Maple Grove and went out to play on the beach for a few hours Monday afternoon. They had a large float they had been using as a family, but it had broken loose and floated out into the bay. Dennis and his daughter Emerson went out to get the float, leaving Danielle, Lincoln and the couple's youngest son Harrison on the beach.

Lincoln, 9, took the family's smaller float out into the water to play without a life jacket and while Danielle was distracted looking after four-year-old Harrison, the wind pushed Lincoln and his float 100 yards or more out into Burlington Bay.

"Before I knew it, Lincoln was way too far out," Danielle said.

It wasn't long before Lincoln was just hanging on the the side of the float and calling for his dad to come get him.

"I started just panicking not knowing what to do," Danielle said. "I can swim, I'm not a lifeguard but I can swim. I was just trying to figure out what to do and other people were talking to me and trying to figure out what to do."

Luckily, Two Harbors native Kate Thomasen had decided to go with a friend down to the beach because it was such a nice day out. Thomasen, a member of the Two Harbors High School swim team and a lifeguard during the summer, saw Danielle's growing concern and offered to swim out and help Lincoln back to shore.

"His mom was trying to get him to kick back in with the floaty, and then I offered since I am a lifeguard and on the swim team," Thomasen said.

Thomasen said part of her training for the swim team requires her to swim thousands of yards at practice and the 150 yards to go get Lincoln wasn't a big deal at all. Still, Thomasen has never had to go in after someone in the pool at Two Harbors High School, much less a person floating in the sometimes choppy water in Burlington Bay.

"I have never gone out and gotten someone like that before," Thomasen said. "I knew I could do it physically so I felt pretty confident in doing it. It was just a good thing that people were around."

Lincoln, who Dennis described as a "daredevil," wasn't quite as concerned about what occurred as his parents, though.

"Mom, that's not the worst thing I've done," he said.

Still, Thomasen's quick action turned a truly dangerous situation into a learning experience and a fun, if stressful, memory of a Two Harbors vacation. Even better, a family that regularly spends a week each summer in this lakeside town has an even better impression of the people who call Two Harbors home.

Jamey Malcomb

Jamey Malcomb started as a reporter for the Lake County News-Chronicle in August 2015. Malcomb is a native of North Carolina and holds a bachelor's degree in English and history from the George Washington University and a master's degree in education from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. Malcomb moved to Minnesota in July 2012 and previously worked as a sports clerk and news assistant at the Duluth News Tribune. He is the beat writer for the Lake County Board of Commissioners, Lake Superior School District board of education and high school sports in Lake County. 

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