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ORLAND PARK, Ill. (STMW) – A naked man holding a rosary in his right hand called for help after venturing into a southwest suburban Orland Park lake on Tuesday and was saved by a man and a girl.
Albert Kulicz, 21, of Bridgeview, and MacKenzie Smith, 16, of Orland Park, jumped into Lake Sedgewick at Centennial Park about 12:45 p.m. to rescue the man, who was floundering about 100 feet offshore, they said.
Kulicz and Smith were in separate groups near the gazebo at the lake when they heard the man shouting for help. It took them and friends about five minutes to run to the south end of the lake, where Smith and Kulicz jumped into the water and swam out about 100 feet to save him.
The water was deep that far from shore, Kulicz said. He stands 6-foot-2 and could not touch bottom.
“I had no second thoughts. I’m a decent swimmer. But he had his all his weight on me and kept saying, ‘Forgive me, forgive me,’ He was almost drowning me. He said he couldn’t swim, and was holding on to me for dear life,” Kulicz said.
He and Smith were able to get the man to float on his back and brought him ashore, Kulicz said.
Smith said the man, who was “fairly tall and kind of heavy,” lost consciousness as he was being brought in.
They laid him on the ground with Kulicz’s shirt and flip-flops beneath his head until police arrived.
One of Smith’s friends, Andrea Dunn, had called 911 when they heard the man yelling for help. They and two other friends were having a picnic at the lake to celebrate the final day of their junior year at Sandburg High School.
Kulicz was at Centennial Park enjoying the pleasant weather with his girlfriend, Kate Lesniak, of Chicago Heights. They had gone there hoping to use the water park, but it wasn’t open when they arrived.
Kulicz, who recently graduated from Bradley University, soon will begin work as a engineer for Caterpillar Inc. in Peoria. He and Smith shrugged off suggestions that they were heroes.
Lesniak knows better.
“He’s a really amazing guy,” she said of Kulicz. “I was scared. I know he’s a good swimmer, but I was definitely nervous about something happening to him.”
Smith said the rescue has her “wondering how the rest of summer will compare to this.”
Orland Park police did not immediately comment.
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