Chicago, IL

Chicago Student Rescued After Walking 1000 Feet Offshore over Frozen Lake Michigan

Natalie Frank, Ph.D.

A 24 year old Chicago student said he didn't realize he was over water after being rescued from Lake Michigan ice on Friday

In Chicago Firday, a 911 call was made by several witnesses who observed a man walking out on the ice that covers Lake Michigan. This occured at Promontory Point, right across the street from the Museum of Science and Industry where the water is about 20-feet deep.

When seen, the 24 year old Chicago student was at least 1000 feet from shore over the water of the lake. As bystanders watched him get farther out the became worried and when he seemed to suddently disappear from sight, they feared the ice had broken and he'd fallen into the freezing cold water, prompting them to call 911 for help.

The first to respond was a Chicago Fire Department helicopter, which attempted to get the man's attention using the public address system, but the man didn't seem to understand that they were directing their efforts at him. Ultimately, emergency personnel went out to him, and managed to bring him back to safety using an inflatable raft.

After being rescued, the student said, "I was strolling on ice because I found it was solid, and I found it relaxing. I heard police sirens, so I came back."

However, according to reports the man was stuck out on the ice for about 40 minutes before being able to be safely brought back to shore by emergency personnel.

CFD Marine Unit Chief Jason Lach said the situation was extremely dangerous as the rescuers ran into patches of open water on way back in which the man could easily have fallen into. As cold as the water is currently there would likely not have been enough time to save him had that happened. This type of situation also puts rescuers at risk.

"Everybody is ok, and everyone is going home," Lach said.

The student was issued a ticket for disorderly conduct.

Officials are reminding the public to avoid the ice at all costs and never to attempt to walk out onto the ice covering the lake. It is impossible to tell where the ice may be weak or thin and it can give way at any time without warning.

"The lake is still very much alive and running underneath that ice," said Larry Langford with the Chicago Fire Deparment. "If you go in the water, the water temperature is going to get you in a matter of seconds and you’re pretty much doomed."

Watch as the rescue unfolds:

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