Kayaker Rescues Man in River

Man taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in critical condition

Wednesday, Jun 13, 2012  |  Updated 10:57 PM CDT
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Kayaker Rescues Man in River

YouTube, Marty Woulfe

A kayaker grabbed an unconscious man who apparently fell into the Chicago River Wednesday afternoon Downtown and held him until emergency crews arrived.

The man -- dressed in a business suit and carrying a briefcase -- apparently fell into the Chicago River about 2:45 p.m. near North Clark Street, police Marine Unit Sgt. Karl Hajdu said.

A kayaker grabbed the man and prevented him from drowning until a police Marine Unit boat with four officers onboard got to the scene, Hajdu said. Marine Unit officer Mark Jaeger jumped into the water with a life vest but no wet suit and pulled the man onto the police boat.

"There is no denying the kayaker had a lot to do with [the rescue]," Hajdu said.

Once on the boat, other Marine Unit officers performed “chest compressions” while taking him to shore, where paramedics took him to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in critical condition, Hajdu said.

"[Jaeger] did a very fine job," Hajdu said. "With the combination of the kayaker holding him up and Jaeger grabbing him and bringing him on the boat and beginning chest compressions, which is so important to getting the blood circulating.”

Police are still investigating what caused the man -- believed to be in his 30s or 40s -- to enter the water, Hajdu said. Preliminary information indicates he may have suffered a possible medical condition.

A witness told police that a briefcase or luggage fell into the water with the man, Hajdu said. The Marine Unit did recover a nearby suitcase they believe belonged to the man, and it provided them with a possible identity.

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