One teenage girl has died and another is in stable condition after they were pulled out of Lake Michigan at Loyola Beach near Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus Friday evening, according to the Chicago Police Department (CPD).
Authorities said the two 13-year-old girls were swimming when they were caught by a rip current near the 1200 block of W. Greenleaf Avenue at about 7:30 p.m. One civilian and two police officers jumped in the lake in attempts to rescue the two girls, police said.
Lifeguards are off duty at 7 p.m., according to CPD.
The first girl was pulled out of the water by a Chicago Police Officer and is in stable condition, according to CPD Officer Norma Pelayo. The second victim was located and pulled out of the water after about an hour by the CPD Marine Unit in critical condition, Pelayo said.
Both girls were transported to Presence St. Francis Hospital in Evanston, where one was pronounced dead at 10:13 p.m., according to the CPD.
Ron Dorneker, Deputy District Chief of the Chicago Fire Department, held a short press conference on the scene Friday evening.
Dorneker said civilians and police officers were trying to help the people in the water when the fire department arrived. The police officers who helped, as well as three other civilians in the water, refused medical attention, according to Dorneker.
The National Weather Service advised people to stay out of the water through Friday evening due to dangerous waves and currents at Chicago beaches. It issued another beach hazards statement at 9 p.m., which was in effect until 1 a.m. Saturday morning.
“Although the water is warm, it’s very dangerous,” Dorneker said. “These waves are extremely dangerous. They’re going to knock you off your feet.”
Rogers Park resident Monica Blake arrived at about 7:45 p.m. and said she witnessed the initial rescue efforts by police officers and onlookers before more rescuers and resources arrived. She said she saw three people clinging on to a breakwall trying to inch their way back to the shore and watched officers trying to help them.
“As they were inching along, the waves were smashing them into the wall and [one of the girls] let go.” the 62-year-old said. “We saw the guys still inching along, but I no longer saw the girl and then the divers came to the water with life preservers.”
John Lamping, a resident of Rogers Park since the 1950s, said he’s seen a handful of incidents similar to this one.
“It’s sad every time it happens,” he said. “It affects the whole community.”