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Chicago officials urge lakefront caution after drownings

At least 35 people have drowned in Lake Michigan so far this year, according to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, which tracks drownings.

“We want to welcome everyone to the lakefront, but we want you to be safe,” Chicago Police Marine Unit Lt. Tony Mendez told reporters. | Photo: CFDMedia

CHICAGO (AP) — Public safety officials are urging Chicago residents to exercise caution along the city’s lakefront after incidents spanning less than a week saw three people apparently drown and a woman lose her feet in a boating mishap.

Police and fire officials pleaded Thursday with boaters and swimmers to be responsible, wear personal flotation devices, swim with a partner and not to drink if they plan to boat or swim on Lake Michigan.

“We want to welcome everyone to the lakefront, but we want you to be safe,” Chicago Police Marine Unit Lt. Tony Mendez told reporters.

Last Saturday, a woman who was on a raft in the so-called “Playpen” near Chicago’s Navy Pier lost both her feet when a boat backed into the raft and she and others were pulled beneath it. Surgeons later had to amputated her legs below her knees.

Mendez spoke Thursday on the lakefront hours after a man apparently drowned after falling from a boat Wednesday evening. Police were still searching for his body.

That incident was the third apparent drowning this week along Chicago's lakefront, including two men, ages 38 and 43, who were pronounced dead after being pulled from the lake in separate incidents Wednesday and early Thursday.

At least 35 people have drowned in Lake Michigan so far this year, according to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, which tracks drownings.


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