Lake Michigan

Man Dies After Trying to Save Girl From Lake Michigan

High waves of 3-to-6 feet are expected until Friday evening, causing hazardous swimming conditions

Authorities are issuing another warning to residents to stay out of Lake Michigan after a 35-year-old man died after jumping into the water to try to save an 11-year-old girl who had been swept into the lake by high waves.

According to Chicago police, the girl was standing on a breakwall at approximately 3:18 p.m. Thursday afternoon when a high wave swept her into the water. An unidentified man, who was also on the breakwall, then jumped into the water to try to save her but was overcome by the high water levels.

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

A Chicago Park District lifeguard was able to pull the girl out of the water, but it was several minutes before they were able to locate the missing man, identified by the Cook County Medical Examiner as 35-year-old Rene Padilla. 

Lifeguards began performing CPR on Padilla as soon as he was pulled from the water. 

"They were pumping his chest. They were doing that when they put him in the ambulance too," witness Karen Gutierrez said. 

The man was taken to Mercy Hospital in extremely critical condition, and was later pronounced dead. 

Further information on the identities of the victims was unavailable at this time.  

Thanks to high winds, waves are being driven to heights of 3-to-6 feet on Lake Michigan Thursday, prompting the National Weather Service to issue High Swim Risk advisories. Life-threatening waves and rip currents are expected to last through Friday evening at area beaches, and officials are asking all residents to obey posted signs and beach closures due to the hazardous swim conditions.

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