Eight people pulled from Lake Michigan after dramatic weather change capsizes sailboats
Eight people were rescued from Lake Michigan around 5 p.m. Thursday following a sudden change in the weather.
The dramatic and dangerous effort spanned a mile across the lake and all the details were still coming in Friday morning. But what is certain is that it was a water rescue successfully coordinated by the Evanston Fire Department and lifeguards from the Northwestern Sailing Center. The end result being that no one was hospitalized and all boaters were accounted for, ending up on dry land.
Rescue teams picked up the eight after the four sailboats they were riding on rolled over in the choppy water and all were taken to Clark Street Beach.
The Round table went to Fire Station 1, 1332 Emerson St., early Friday, October 7, and spoke to four of the Evanston firefighters involved: Battalion Chief Dan Lynch, Johan Haglund, Sean Malloy and James Trippi. The men recounted how things unfolded:
The first two victims were taken from Dempster Street Sailing Beach after their boat crashed and broke on the Dempster Breakwater.
Firefighter Andrew Arreguin, wearing a wetsuit with a flotation device, rushed to the end of the breakwater and jumped into the water to save one person. Another boater clung to a buoy near the breakwater.
“It was dangerous because the rip currents start pulling you out into the water, into the lake,” said firefighter Sean Malloy, who is part of the two-man jet ski unit. “He clings to the buoy. He was exhausted.
“When we got there, there were two casualties in the water,” Battalion Commander Dan Lynch said. “That’s when [weather] the front entered. Very windy, it was raining. Visibility was starting to get a little poor. He said the lake’s water temperature was in the mid-60s. “Not great,” Lynch said. “But you can still get hypothermia as a result of that.”
The victims were taken to Clark Street Beach on the department’s lifeboat and jet ski unit.
Two other boaters were rescued southeast of the breach wall by firefighters and two more were picked up by a boat from the northwest off Lee Street Beach.
Two others were pulled from the water by Evanston firefighters near the Church Street boat launch.
“We have been working for several years now,” said firefighter James Trippi. “Yesterday was a huge example [and] one step forward.”