Body pulled from Montrose Harbor is not person missing from 'Playpen,' Lake Michigan, officials say

Boat accident Chicago: Coast Guard also brought unconscious person to shore in critical condition; some concerns about safety

ByMichelle Gallardo and Maher Kawash and Stephanie Wade via WLS logo
Friday, August 19, 2022
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Officials are emphasizing water safety after a rash of drownings and boating accidents on Lake Michigan in the last week.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A body has been pulled from Montrose Harbor, hours after a person went missing in the water in Chicago's "Playpen" area of Lake Michigan Wednesday night, according to CPD.

The body of a 38-year-old Chicago man was discovered in the 200-block of West Montrose Drive just after 12:20 a.m. Thursday. Chicago fire crews took the individual to Weiss Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Officials identified the man pulled from Montrose Harbor as Francisco Gonzalez, and said he is not the same person who went missing in the "Playpen" Wednesday night. The CPD Marine Unit is still searching for that person.

Another person is in critical condition after becoming unconscious on the same boat, near Oak Street Beach, Wednesday night.

Police said shortly before 7 p.m., their marine unit responded to a report that a person allegedly fell off a boat in the "Playpen" near the Jardine Water filtration plant.

RELATED: Chicago boat accident in 'Playpen' leaves 2 in serious condition, fire officials say

When officers arrived, they began looking for the missing person.

The marine unit searched the lake for the missing person, but the search was suspended for the night.

READ MORE: Boating accident in Chicago's 'Playpen' raises safety concerns about Lake Michigan party spot

The Coast Guard said the missing person was wearing a red shirt and blue jean shorts.

This incident with the "Playpen" comes amid growing concerns about safety in that part of the lake.

Just last weekend, a mother was seriously hurt when she was sucked under a boat that crashed into a raft she was on with friends.

Lana Batochir just underwent a double amputation of her legs, below her knees.

She's also hired attorneys who are launching their own investigation and considering a lawsuit.

Incidents like these are a worrisome sign to sailboat owners on the lake.

"It's gotten more and more crowded. I used to go there and anchor years and years ago. But it is a little out-of-hand now. I don't know what the marine police can do much more than go through there," sailboat owner Tom Payne said.

Because of federal laws that govern the waterways, the U.S. Coast Guard said it's not possible to limit capacity or access to the popular no-wake boating area near Ohio Street Beach.

It appears that there have been a lot of accidents and drownings in Lake Michigan recently because there have been, but police and fire officials said this last week has been an anomaly in an otherwise quieter summer than usual.

"As of midnight last night there have been 36 Lake Michigan drownings, 81 Great Lakes drownings," said Dave Benjamin of the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project. "But again there is a person still missing in Lake Michigan from the Play Pen. There is a person still missing in the lake from a boat from July 27th."

Officials warned boaters, swimmers and beachgoers to take precautions in the water including always bringing a personal flotation device, never swim alone, watch weather conditions and keep an eye on everybody in your group.