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Green Bay man killed, son rescued after van plunges into Kewaunee Harbor

KEWAUNEE COUNTY, WI (WTAQ) - Authorities in Kewaunee have pulled the body of a Green Bay man who drove his van into the marina with his five-year-old son inside.

Kewaunee police were called around 8:30 a.m. Sunday for a report of a van that lost control and landed into the water near the Kewaunee Harbor.

Police say some quick-thinking bystanders helped pull the boy to safety near Lakeshore Road.

"Well, we were just packing up, getting ready to leave," Rafe King, in town for a weekend salmon fishing and camping trip with his friend Chuck Ramsden, told FOX 11.

King says the two were packing up to go back to Minnesota when they heard a crashing sound.

"I looked across the harbor here and saw a van going, actually into the harbor,” said King. “We got in the car and got there as soon as we could. Once we got there all we saw was one boy trying to hang on to the side of the boat and we lifted him out of the water."

"Chuck actually got to him first. Grabbed his arm and we both lifted him up out of the water. He was really shaken,” King said of the young boy. “But he was just saying he couldn't find his mom and dad."

Kewaunee Police Chief Frank Salentine says when police arrived on scene, they discovered the boy and his father were the only two in the van when it veered off the road. The vehicle hit a tree and clipped a sail boat moored in the channel of the Kewaunee marina before plunging underwater.

For much of the day, divers searched the water as the scene transitioned from a rescue to a recovery mission. All the while, dozens of watched from across the channel as crews attempted to recover the van, and hopefully the man's body.

At around 4:30 p.m., the vehicle rose to the surface with the help of airbags. Towed to the marina launch, authorities then discovered the man was not inside. His body was later found around 7 p.m. in about 16 feet of water near the crash site.

Though a somber end, King says he's glad he got there when he could.

"I'm afraid if we had went a longer distance or something would have stopped us from [getting to him], it wouldn't have been as good an outlook," said King.

The boy was released to family members.

Police would not speculate as to the cause of why the man may have lost control of the van.

Authorities are not releasing the man's name pending notification of family.