Lake Michigan drowning: dangerous water conditions prompt multiple rescues, at least 1 dead

CHICAGO (WLS) – Dangerous water conditions in Lake Michigan over the weekend resulted in several water rescues and at least one drowning over the weekend.

A Danger notice for the beach is in effect for central and northern Cook and Lake counties in Illinois, as well as Lake and Porter counties in Indiana until 10 p.m. Sunday, according to the National Weather Service. Meteorologist Phil Schwarz said the waves reach 3 to 6 feet, which he added is enough to create dangerous reverse currents in the lake.

A helicopter helped divers search for a person who apparently jumped into Lake Michigan around 7:30 a.m. Sunday morning. The rough waters probably made swimming very difficult and they eventually recovered the body of the drowning victim.

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“No one is a swimmer strong enough to fight these currents,” said Maria Hadden, alderman for the 49th arrondissement.

Afterwards, lifeguards in rowboats kept the swimmers a little closer to shore for the afternoon.

Yellow flags seen on the beach indicate rough water conditions and swimmers should be careful.

A little further north, the flags are red, which means that swimming is prohibited.

Warning flags are not good news on a hot, sunny weekend afternoon, especially with the Air and Water Show along the lake.

“We can’t go in the water,” asked Eric Sanchez, a beach enthusiast.

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In Evanston, the lake swimmers had to be rescued after getting into trouble in the strong currents.

Three people were rescued in two separate incidents by the lake, according to Evanston fire officials.

Late Saturday afternoon, a 37-year-old man was rescued two miles off the beach in Dempster Street. Officials said the Chicago resident was kayaking while watching the air show when high waves filled his kayak with water.

The man then decided to leave his kayak and get into the water around 1 p.m., but he was not rescued until just before dusk, firefighters said.

“The lifeguard swimmer was able to reach him, put on a life jacket and float him. He was exhausted by this point,” said Tim Migon of the Evanston Fire Department.

He was brought down to earth without any injuries.

According to the EFD, two students from the Northwest were also rescued in Evanston in a separate incident early Sunday morning at Clark Street Beach.

The pair were throwing a soccer ball onto the beach just before 7 a.m. when the ball fell into the water.

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One of the students went to get the ball but was swept away by the current. It was then that the other student jumped into the lake in an attempt to save his friend, but was also pushed away from shore.

They were quickly taken to safety, where they were assessed for injuries and released from the scene, according to firefighters.

Hours after the drowning in Rogers Park, two more people jumped into the water despite warning flags. This time a fisherman was nearby with a net and several other people on the beach joined together forming a human chain to help them out of the water.

“It took all of my strength … Just to stop it,” said Joe Kauss, one of the volunteer rescuers.

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