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GARY, Ind. (STMW) – A Chicago man died Saturday afternoon in an apparent drowning off Wells Street Beach in Gary, Ind., after rescuers were unable to revive him.
Pawel P. Lesny, 33, had been at the beach with friends for only a few minutes before he jumped into the water and went missing just before 4 p.m., according to Gene Davis, spokesman for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Others searched the water for the man about 40 minutes before he was seen floating in the water.
Emergency responders on the beach administered CPR and took him to an area hospital but were unable to revive him, Davis said.
The National Weather Service had warned on its website of a high risk of rip currents along the Indiana shore of Lake Michigan from Saturday morning through Sunday evening. Rip currents are powerful channels of water flowing quickly away from shore.
Gary Fire Department Divemaster Joe Jamrok said he had stopped to chat with beachgoers while patrolling Wells Street Beach on an all-terrain vehicle when a group told him their friend was missing. Jamrok and others found the man about 40 feet from shore, beyond the buoy where the lake floor becomes uneven and deep in spots.
The Gary Fire Department took the man to The Methodist Hospitals Northlake campus in Gary, Jamrok said, but Lesny was pronounced dead at 5:40 p.m.
The Lake County Coroner’s office is planning to perform an autopsy at 9 a.m. Monday, Davis said.
The beach was closed for the remainder of Saturday, and Jamrok said he wasn’t sure whether it would be closed Sunday.
Jamrok said he was just talking with beachgoers about coming out of the water.
“Earlier in the day it wasn’t bad, but as the wind started picking up during the day, it got worse,” he said. “If the National Lakeshore shuts down, we shut down, but I didn’t hear anything.”
Richard DeFries of Lansing, was among the people who helped in the rescue effort. He was visibly shaken after the incident.
“We were just talking when this woman came up, and then 40 minutes later, I see someone floating,” DeFries said. “I’ve never seen something like that.”
Davis said he hoped, if the beaches are opened Sunday, that people will use common sense before attempting to go in the water.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)