3 women recognized for heroic efforts in Wisconsin River drowning

Father, son drowning victims identified

An investigation into the recent drowning of a father and son in the Wisconsin River highlighted heroic efforts of three women, according to a release from the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office.

Five people fell into the water from a sand bar on the river in Columbia County. Emergency crews successfully rescued one woman, one man and one boy. A boy rescued later died, and his father was found dead on the scene.

The sheriff’s office’s investigation closed Friday, and did not find signs of criminal malice.

“What the investigation shows, however, is that as tragic as this was, it was almost a catastrophic incident if it would not have been for the brave and incredible efforts of three female citizens,” said Sheriff Dennis Richards.

According to the sheriff’s office, one of the victims prevented the drowning death of a child. She and another male friend went into the water and grabbed the two boys who fell in the water. The male friend made it to safety, and the female victim was able to save one of the children but got caught in a current and was unable to get to safety.

The release said two other women, Amy Feller and Cathy Farrey, heard the screams for help and entered the water. They got life vests and a small raft to the victims and got them to a safer area where deputies were able to pick them up.

The dive team found Andrew McKenna around 4 p.m., but he was pronounced dead at the hospital. Elliot McKenna was found at 6:18 p.m. dead at the scene.

“We would have undoubtedly had four drowning deaths if these ladies would not have instantly acted and put their lives in danger to save others,” said Sheriff Richards. “It cannot be said enough that without all the efforts of the citizens, volunteers and first responders that we would have additional victims and would not have found the deceased victims in the timely manner that they were found.”