Father who drowned in Winnetka near Centennial Park Beach was Sept. 11 survivor

ByABC7 Chicago Digital Team WLS logo
Thursday, July 6, 2023
Man who drowned in Winnetka near Centennial Park Beach ID'd
Luke Laidley, 43 has died after being pulled from Lake Michigan near Centennial Park Beach after a boating incident.

WINNETKA, Ill. (WLS) -- The Winnetka father who died trying to save children while boating near Centennial Park Beach Tuesday was a 9/11 survivor.

Please note: The above video is from a previous report

Luke Laidley, 43, jumped into the waters of Lake Michigan Tuesday when a tube his boat was pulling flipped and multiple children started struggling in the water.

Others on the boat were able to get Laidley aboard and began CPR on him. He was taken to the hospital in serious condition and died a short time later.

Luke Laidley, right, with his mother at her birthday celebration.
Courtesy of the Laidley family

His family said Laidley was a 9/11 survivor, and was working in Tower Two when the attack happened. It was just his second day on the job.

His family released the following statement:

Born on September 14, 1979, Luke Laidley was the fifth of six kids to Forrest and Diane Laidley of Libertyville, IL. Raised in the northern suburbs of Chicago, Luke was an avid athlete and grounded himself in faith as a graduate of Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein and Boston College where the tenant philosophy was to serve as men and women for others.

After graduating from Boston College with a degree in Finance, he took his first job at 21 years old with Morgan Stanley in New York City. Morgan Stanley was the largest tenant in Tower 2 of the World Trade Center. His second day on the job was September 11, 2001. As a survivor of the 61th floor of Tower 2, he later wrote, "I encourage all of us to count our blessings each and every day. Give of yourself and expect nothing in return. And become part of something that is greater than yourself."

After 9/11 he moved back to Chicago, where Luke had a successful career in finance. He was a high school football coach at both Carmel Catholic and Loyola Academy, but his proudest accomplishment was his marriage with his wife Lauren (nee Damico). Happily married for nearly 10 years, and blessed parents of Lucas (7) ,Vivian (5), and Logan (3). His true passion in life was being a devoted husband and a loving father. Luke and his family moved to Winnetka, and joined the Catholic parish Faith Hope and Charity, where they are active parishioners and where their 3 children attend school.

A true family man to his core, not only with his own wife and kids, but an incredible brother to his 5 siblings, inlaws, and uncle to 17 nieces and nephews. His smile lit up the room. He exuded positivity and perseverance with everything he did. He loved deeply and truly with all his heart.

Luke lived his life guided by his experiences and he had several that allowed him to bestow compassion, love, inspiration, and leadership to others. He lived a hero's song.

Luke Laidley embraced and lived this belief to the end on July 4, 2023 where he risked his life for the children who were struggling when their tube flipped on Lake Michigan.

His philosophy was to "Give of yourself and expect nothing in return. And become part of something that is greater than yourself." He became part of something bigger, as his death will serve a greater purpose as an organ donor.

A life lived with purpose. A life lived to serve for others. A life lived as a hero.