LAKESIDE, Mich. (CBS) — Dr. Donald Liu, a Chicago surgeon who devoted his life to saving the lives of children, died Sunday as he tried to rescue two young boys in Lake Michigan.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports, Liu, 50, was spending the weekend with his wife and three children at the summer home of a family friend in the Berrien County, Mich., town of Lakeside.

READ MORE: Pair Charged In Murder Of 8-Year-Old Melissa Ortega Denied Bail; Accused Teen Gunman Committed Three Previous Carjackings, Prosecutors Say

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Regine Schlesinger reports

On Sunday, he was on the beach when he saw two young boys struggling in the water. He jumped in and got them to safety, but was pulled under himself by the rip current.

READ MORE: Bears Reportedly Hiring Colts Defensive Coordinator Matt Eberflus As New Head Coach

Dr. Liu, described by colleagues as brilliant, had been the chief surgeon at the University of Chicago’s Comer Children’s Hospital.

“Don’s death personifies a life that was devoted to saving children,” the dean of the University of Chicago’s Medical School, Dr. Kenneth S. Polonsky, wrote in an email to colleagues Sunday – as quoted by the Sun-Times Media Wire.

Dr. Liu was an internationally known expert in pediatric minimally invasive surgery, which is performed through small incisions rather than large, open incisions, the U of C Medicine says.

MORE NEWS: Chicago Matching Federal Money For Lakefront Erosion Survey

Liu’s was one of two drownings on the west coast of Michigan over the weekend. A 41-year-old man from the Kane County town of Montgomery disappeared in waves as high as 8 feet, and his body was later recovered by the U.S. Coast Guard.