Lake Michigan

Beachgoers Warned of Dangerous Waves on Lake Michigan

Beachgoers were under an urgent warning of strong currents and dangerous waves across the lakefront in Chicago and the surrounding area on Friday.

The National Weather Service issued a Beach Hazard Statement for Cook and Lake counties in Illinois, as well as LaPorte and Lake counties in Indiana.

The NWS warned of high waves reaching 3 to 6 feet, with strong rip currents and dangerous swimming conditions expected.

Those visiting beaches in the area were warned to stay out of the water, as the conditions could be life-threatening.

The conditions proved deadly Thursday when a man died trying to save a young girl who had been swept into the lake near Chicago's 31st Street Beach.

The 11-year-old girl was standing on a breakwall at around 3:18 p.m. when a high wave swept her into the water, according to Chicago police.

A man who was also standing on the breakwall, later identified as 35-year-old Rene Padilla, jumped in to save her but was overcome by the high water levels, officials said.

"A young girl was in the water, and it was like he was trying to save her. So he jumped in the water," said London Betz, who witnessed the incident.

"I saw his head go under and I was like 'Babe, where did he go?'" Betz said. "She was yelling for help, and he was trying to get air. It was a horrible situation."

Lifeguards raced over and were able to pull the girl from the water, but Padilla was pulled under. After several minutes, the lifeguards pulled him from the water and performed CPR before he was taken in critical condition to Mercy Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

It's not clear if Padilla, of Blue Island, had any relation to the young girl. Authorities issued a warning that anyone visiting the lakefront should stay out of the water, with the Beach Hazard Statement in effect through late Friday night.

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