Woman Who Drowned While Saving Young Boy Remembered As Hero - FOX 32 News Chicago

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Woman Who Drowned While Saving Young Boy Remembered As Hero

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - Karen Wessel was so caring, her sister says she would cut each grape and cherry in half before serving them.

“Because it could be a choking hazard but that was her, was to make sure everybody was ok, everything was right,” said Janice Potocki, Wessel’s sister.

So it’s no surprise Wessel didn’t think twice before going in Star Lake to rescue a young boy struggling in the water - even if it meant sacrificing her own life.

“Heroes still exist, that there are good people, there are good people who still do the right thing,” said Potocki.

That’s just the type of mother, best friend and sister Wessel was.

Janice Potocki was there on Tuesday when her sister gave her own life to save another.

“She saved that little boy's life, she was a hero. He just panicked and kept crawling up her and kept pushing her underwater and they pulled her out of the water. They thought that there was still a chance, they restarted her heart,” said Potocki.

Potocki was holding her sister’s hand when she passed away an hour after the rescue.

The two Arlington Heights sisters were the best of friends and neighbors.

“She was my best friend - my first phone call every morning, my last text every night. I'd get home from work and play with the children in the yard, she lives next door to me here, she lived next door to me there, she was my entire world,” said Potocki.

And a mother to many, even those who were not her biological children, many who attended Westgate Elementary School with her 9-year-old son.

“I didn't get any sleep last night, I stayed up all night,” said Ryan McCoy, 12.

“Ryan has been having a horrible time because she was like a second mom to him and we were just talking about how people look for heroes every day and we had one right across the street,” said Barb McCoy.

Wessel leaves behind a nine year old son and a 17-year-old daughter. Family members have set up a trust and scholarship fund for them at The Village Bank and Trust of Arlington Heights. The 8-year-old boy who Wessel saved lives in Eagle River. After Wessel saved him, she went under and a boat came by and pulled the boy to safety. The child is recovering.


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