Body pulled from Lake Michigan during search for missing swimmer near Foster Beach ID'd

ByMichelle Gallardo and Christian Piekos WLS logo
Friday, June 23, 2023
Body pulled from lake at Foster Beach, 10th drowning so far this year
A woman's body was pulled from Lake Michigan at Foster Beach Thursday morning, the 10th drowning in the lake so far this year.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Crews searching for a missing 20-year-old woman who was swimming in Lake Michigan near Foster Beach pulled a body from the water Thursday morning.

Chicago Police Marine Unit divers pulled the body out shortly before 10 a.m. The Cook County Medical Examiner's Office identified her as Amy Kelts, 20, of Aurora.

Amy Kelts, 20

A team of divers carefully searched an area near a pier not too far from the beach for about 40 minutes this morning until that body was recovered. A black body bag was brought to the end of the pier as divers returned to shore.

Police said they responded to the beach around 8:30 p.m. with the fire department to find this 19-year-old who never surfaced. A witness said the woman was struggling to swim to shore before she went under.

First responders later suspended their search.

A witness said the water conditions were too dangerous to try and go after the woman.

"I tried to jump in but I don't know, I didn't see her after minute," Angelo Diaz said. "I tried to like catch myself because the waves are too strong and I don't know if the waves are gonna end up pushing me under so I just got out of the water."

Chicago police are calling this an accidental tragedy.

The medical examiner's office has not confirmed the name and age of the body recovered.

As of Thursday, 10 people have drowned in Lake Michigan so far this year, three in the last week alone, including 7-year-old Onyx Torres in Portage and 18-year-old Pedro at Indiana's Porter Beach.

"That's the thing about the water. We're around it all the time and we usually don't drown, and so we get this false sense of security," said Halle Quezada with the Chicago Alliance for Water Safety.

Quezada started the group after witnessing a 13-year-old drown at Loyola Beach nearly five years ago. She has since advocated for more lifeguards and life rings placed in regular intervals along Chicago's beaches/.

With summer officially here, it's important to remember that the Chicago Park District says swimming at city beaches is only permitted when there is a lifeguard on-duty from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day.

Quezada also said it's important to pay attention flag colors before getting in the water. But that's only one part of the puzzle.

"Whatever skills you have, whatever strength or abilities you have, the lake has more," she said. "And you can't outrun a current so you have to know drowning survival strategies. Having water safety come through schools and having that repeat messaging that kids get year after year is really what we need to be a water safe community."

After years of lobbying for it, back in April the Illinois House unanimously approved a bill that would require all schools provide water safety education for grades K through 6. As of now, that bill is still pending in the Senate.