Chicago officials urge safety along Lake Michigan after recent incidents

Warning comes ahead of busy weekend along lakefront with Chicago Air and Water Show

ByMaher Kawash WLS logo
Friday, August 19, 2022
Officials issue lakefront safety message ahead of busy weekend
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Chicago officials urged those headed for the lakefront to take caution after several recent incidents, including a boat accident in the "Playpen."

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A busy weekend ahead here on the lakefront has city officials urging people to be safe.

Three bodies have been pulled from Lake Michigan in the last 72 hours.

Safety crews are still searching for that missing man from the "Playpen" boating incident. Officials said he fell off a boat around 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Another man, also on that same boat near Oak Street Beach, was found unconscious and taken to the hospital in critical condition.

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

The Chicago Fire Department said the recent increase in water-related incidents happening along the lake is out of the ordinary.

"I checked the numbers and at this time, it just happens to be a cluster.," Lieutenant Tony Mendez, commanding officer of the CPD Marine Unit., said. "Actually, our calls for service have been a bit down, but again, it's seasonal and right now they are up."

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

Hours after the playpen incident, the body of 38-year-old Francisco Gonzalez was pulled from Montrose Harbor just after midnight. Officials said it was not the same person missing from the Playpen.

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.

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

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.

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.

So an urge for caution and with the Air and Water Show set to take over, the Coast Guard said no vessels can enter, transit, or anchor along the lakefront without the Coast Guard or law enforcement permission between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. each day this weekend.

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.