'It was hectic': Chicago Police Marine Unit describes scene after Lake Michigan 'Playpen' incident

Woman's feet severed in Lake Michigan boating incident at the "Playpen," CPD says

ByJohn Garcia and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team via WLS logo
Monday, August 15, 2022
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Cell phone video from a nearby boat shows the victims in the water after another boat backed into them during a Lake Michigan boating incident at Chicago's "Playpen."

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago police revealed new details about a Lake Michigan boating accident that seriously injured two women over the weekend.

The incident took place in what's known as the "Playpen," an area of the lake protected by break walls between Oak Street and Ohio Street beaches. On nice weekends, hundreds of boaters often anchor in the area, tie their boats together and swim off the back.

It's generally a relaxing time in the water, but on Saturday evening, it was anything but. Cell phone video from a nearby boat shows the victims in the water after another boat backed into them.

WATCH | CPD's Marine Unit gives update on 'Playpen' incident

One woman's feet were severed by the propeller, police said, and another had severe injuries to her hand.

Witness Ted Widen could hardly believe what he was seeing.

"All these people that were on a lily pad or whatever kind of floatie, they were simply displaced, then had nowhere to go," Widen said.

Widen's friend was on a boat nearby and helped pull several of the victims out of the water before police arrived. They helped get the rest of the victims to safety. Many of those in the water were still in shock.

"I believe there were six to eight individuals on a flotation raft and while they were on that raft, another boat reversed into them, sucking them right underneath their boat," said Officer Ark Pachnik, with Chicago Police Marine Unit.

Once they got to shore, Pachnik said he carried the woman with the injured feet over his shoulder to the ambulance.

"It was hectic," said Officer Raul Echevarria, who tended to the woman with the injured hand.

Paramedics took both victims to Northwestern Hospital nearby.

Chicago police said they are still investigating the incident, but at this point, they are calling it an accident.