A mother is urging action on the part of Chicago officials after her son drowned in Lake Michigan earlier this month.
Maria Diaz, whose son Miguel drowned in the lake earlier this month, is calling for the installation of safety flotation devices along the shores of Lake Michigan.
She says that she has no doubt that if such devices were available that her 19-year-old son would still be alive.
“What if there was a life ring? We would not be doing this interview, and I would have my son,” she says.
On Aug. 22, Miguel Cisneros went for a swim in the lake, then began struggling in the water. Lifeguards were not on duty, and onlookers didn’t have any safety devices to help him from the water.
By the time paramedics arrived to Pratt Pier in the city’s Rogers Park neighborhood, it was too late, and Cisneros had passed away.
“He was just a few feet away. He was screaming for help,” Maria says. “If there was a life ring, anyone could have tossed it.”
When Rogers Park resident Jim Ginderske heard about what had happened, he got upset, and he went out and purchased and installed a life ring at Pratt Pier.
“We have been dealing with the park district for years. They say they are interested in it, but have made no movement on it whatsoever,” he says. “So I thought ‘we cannot wait any longer.’”
Water safety advocates say life rings are needed most at piers and at breakwaters along the lake. Just days after Ginderske installed the ring, he says it was taken down.
“They didn’t replace it, and they took down the safety signs as well,” he says.
The Chicago Park District told NBC 5 in a statement that the life ring wasn’t authorized, but said that they are exploring supplemental safety equipment for sanctioned swim locations.
Maria says that her son had a full ride scholarship to Columbia University, and that he had a big brain and an even bigger heart, two of the things she says she will miss most about the teen.
“I just want to carry on his legacy of helping others, and have the life rings or some sort of signage,” she says.