"I was intensely panicked at first," says Justin Waidzunas when he saw his beloved mother being pulled out of Magician Lake lifeless
"I looked and saw my mom and her face was literally royal blue."
The rescuers performed CPR on Baliunus for a few minutes.
"I could see trickles of breath coming back as he continued to work on her," says Waidzunas.
But Baliunas barely had a pulse. That's when her neighbor, Shelley Hennen, sprinted over to help.
"I started to look and see there was a lot going on over here. So I kicked my sandals off and started running."
When Shelley got to Kathy's side she was barely breathing, that's when Kathy's training as a registered nurse kicked in.
"We put her in the rescue position, which is on your side," says Hennen, who teaches nursing at Lake Michigan College in Benton Harbor.
The rescuers were able to get some water out of her lungs.
"She started to cough. I called her name, she opened her eyes. She was able to squeeze my hand."
And Justin says he is eternally grateful to the friends and strangers that helped save his mom's life.
"I gave the first responder, the man who gave her CPR, I gave him a hug. I said thank you to everybody. It really is kind of a miraculous thing."
Baliunas spent the night in the hospital for observation, but was released Monday morning and is doing fine. Doctors aren't sure what caused her to become disoriented in the water. Her son says she's an avid swimmer and expects she'll get back in the water soon…but says he'll likely keep a close eye on her.
Ted Carlson, Baliunas's neighbor, says they have several near-drownings each year on the popular inland lake, which is second home to many Indiana and Illinois residents. Carlon says Baliunus is a, "very strong woman." And he's glad everything turned out okay.
Shelley Hennen encourages any would-be rescuers if they try to help a drowning victim to start CPR right away, but once the person starts to breath even the slightest bit, to stop CPR, and turn the person on their side to try to get water out of their lungs.