CHICAGO (CBS) — A man died after he and a child were swept into Lake Michigan near 31st Street beach Thursday afternoon.
Police said the 35-year-old man went into the water while standing on a pier amid high water levels and strong currents. A witness said the man and two children were walking on the pier when a wave washed over.
An 11-year-old girl ended up in the lake after being hit by the big wave, and the man went in after her, officials said.
A lifeguard was able to get the girl out of the water in about 30 seconds, but the man was under water for about two minutes.
The man was taken to Mercy Hospital in serious condition and was later pronounced dead, police confirmed.
The girl was also taken to Mercy Hospital. Police described her condition as “stable.”
Demetrius Drummond said he saw lifeguards pulling them from the water.
“The waves and the wind are very crazy,” he said. “I wouldn’t have never touched the water today.”
The man who died was identified late Thursday as Rene Padilla of south suburban Blue Island. The relationship between the man and the girl is not known.
“It’s God’s will, to be honest. They took the best care that they could of him and then the ambulance came,” Drummond said. “I was trying to stay far as I could so they could get air and space.”
Chicago Police officers, Fire Department crews, and Park District lifeguards all helped with the rescue efforts.
As of the late afternoon, part of the area was still taped off and police remained on the scene, CBS 2’s Tim McNicholas reported. The rest of the beach was open.
CBS 2 Meteorologist Rob Ellis said winds along the lake were gusting at 15 to 25 mph as of 5 p.m. Thursday. Buoys were recording waves of between 3 and 5 feet.
Police advised everyone to use caution at the beach Thursday afternoon, as strong currents and dangerous waves persisted.