CHICAGO (CBS) — A man died while trying to rescue his 11-year-old nephew after he fell from a small motorboat into Lake Michigan near 63rd Street Beach.

Around 1 p.m. Monday, 31-year-old James Hammond was in a motorboat; his nephew was floating on a tube nearby, according to Hammond’s family.

When the tube flipped over and the boy fell into the water, James jumped in and tried to save him, according to James’ brother, Michael David Hammond.


“As my nephew started to drift away, my brother hopped in and, as he was swimming towards him, a riptide pulled him down,” Michael David said. “My brother went out a hero — he gave his life saving my nephews’.”

Life guards at the beach pulled the 11-year-old out of the water. He was taken to Comer Children’s Hospital in good condition, and was released later that evening.

James Hammond. (Photo provided to CBS)

“We always take the stance that personal flotation devices should be worn in and around the water, especially when boating,” said Ron Dorneker, with the Chicago Fire Department.

All three kids on the boat were wearing life vests.

“If you are going to be out on a boat, out on the water this holiday season, just be careful, because tragedies like this can happen to anyone,” Michael David said.


James didn’t have any kids of his own, but his family says he loved taking his nephew out on his boat any chance he got.

The beach was closed much of Monday afternoon as Area Central detectives opened a death investigation.