5-year-old pulled from harbor dies

June 19, 2011 8:55:27 PM PDT
A 5-year-old boy died after falling into a harbor on Lake Michigan Sunday afternoon.

It happened at the Jackson Park Yacht Harbor on the South Side at 6400 S. Promontory Point.

The White family was at Jackson Harbor to enjoy a ride on their new boat. They were on the D Dock when 5-year-old Tyrone was walking from his mom to his dad, who was a few feet away on the pier, when suddenly Tyrone was out of his parents' sight.

"I was talking to some fellow sailors about some upcoming races and I heard the mother scream for help," said witness David Ward.

"I was here and the mother started screaming, 'My baby, my baby!' and several people started running to the middle of the dock," said witness Al Thompson.

In the middle of the dock, boaters say they saw a toy in the water and some bubbles. Several people jumped into look for Tyrone.

"Some of us jumped into the water and tried to search but the water's so murky, you can't see 2 feet in front of you," Ward said.

Ward says the water in the harbor is about 16 feet deep. The vegetation on the bottom is over a foot with plants and algae. The Chicago Fire Department, Police Marine Unit and the Coast Guard were all called to the scene.

"The Chicago Fire Department helicopter came in first and dropped two divers into the water. They proceeded to make a pattern search across the area that had been identified as the last seen point," said Battalion Chief Richard Cooper, Chicago Police Department.

It took divers 7 to 10 minutes to locate Tyrone. The boy was pulled out of the water more than 20 minutes after he fell in. He was taken to Comer Children's Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

"It's a sad Father's Day thing -- they were coming down to enjoy Father's Day on their new boat. They only had it one season," Thompson said.

Tyrone White was not wearing a life jacket. It is not required for children to wear one on the docks. Although long-time boaters at the harbor say they are constantly trying to get the message out that even when you're on the pier, you should wear one.

The White family lives only a few blocks from the harbor. There were two other children with the parents at the time of the incident.

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