A 28-year-old Kenosha man died early Monday, having never recovered after he was pulled unconscious from Lake Michigan after he went underwater while trying to save his daughter.
According to Kenosha Police Sgt. James Beller, the man’s 10-year-old daughter called 911 at 7:49 p.m. Saturday saying she thought her father had drowned. When police arrived at the beach near Pennoyer Park at the mouth of the Pike River, “officers saw him floating and being pushed by waves,” Beller said.
“The 10-year-old girl was swimming and she had some trouble, and her father, who doesn’t know how to swim, went to get her and became distressed himself,” Beller said. The man had been at the beach with his 10-year-old daughter and his 7-year-old son.
The man is not yet being identified by police, Beller said.
Kenosha Fire Chief Charles Leipzig said the man had been in the water for about 20 minutes when he was pulled out of the lake. He was resuscitated and taken to the hospital, but died at about 4:50 a.m. Monday, Beller said.
Jack Murphy, who had been in the area and saw the rescue efforts, praised the actions of the first responders. The fire department "worked valiantly on this guy; they worked on him for about 20 minutes,” Murphy said. “They didn’t give up.”
It was the second drowning in a month at the mouth of the Pike River, an area that is particularly dangerous for swimming. The flow of the river into the lake creates strong currents that pull swimmers away from shore, and sometimes has a dangerous undertow. The beach near the river is posted with signs warning of dangerous conditions.
“I can’t stress enough that the mouth of the creek is the most dangerous place to swim,” Leipzig said.
The fire chief said swimming in Lake Michigan in general can be dangerous because of the cold water and unpredictable conditions, but the currents created by the river are a particular hazard.
More Sunday rescues
Beller said three more people were rescued from the water near the river on Sunday afternoon. He said at about 3:15 p.m. two teenagers were swimming off Pennoyer Park when “they got pulled out by the current and people heard them yelling for help.”
A stranger, a 37-year-old man who had been at the beach, heard their calls and went in to help them, then he too became distressed, Beller said. He said two men who were kite surfing in the area heard them and rescued the three people and brought them to shore.