Family of 5 rescued from water after jumping off burning boat into Lake St. Clair

Parents, 3 children rescued from cold water

FAIR HAVEN, Mich. – A family of five had to be rescued Wednesday from a boat fire on Lake St. Clair after a cruise on the family's new boat.

After just a few minutes on Lake St. Clair in Fair Haven, the boat caught fire. The father, who is the fire chief in Ira Township, got the first sparks under control.

"I tried putting it out with the fire extinguisher," Jason Keller said. "It went out, it flared back up."

When the fire flared back up, the smoke and fire grew out of control. With little time to react, the mother jumped into the water.

"I didn't realized what I was jumping into," Amber Ennis said. "I didn't realize it was as deep as it was."

Seconds later, the three children joined her in the water.

"Amber jumped in and I actually threw the kids in the water," Keller said.

The parents didn't have time to grab their life jackets, but the children had theirs on already. The lake was barely 40 degrees and young Jaxson, panicking, was weighing his mother down.

"Once I was frozen I thought again I was going to take my last breath, so I looked over at my daughter, told her to calm down and said, 'If you don't grab Jaxson, I'm going to die,'" Ennis said.

After 15 minutes in the near-freezing water, help finally arrived.

"I looked over again and there were homeowners coming out," Ennis said. "They were able to get us back on shore."

Their boat is destroyed, but the family is grateful the children didn't just stow their life jackets.

"If they were not wearing those vests, I don't think we'd be here right now," Keller said.

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Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.