Chicago student rescued from Lake Michigan ice after walking 1,000 feet offshore

A 24-year-old Chicago student was dangerously walking off the shore of frozen Lake Michigan, where emergency personnel escorted him off the ice Friday morning.

A 911 call was made by bystanders who were concerned, as the student was over 1,000 feet off the shore at Promontory Point, just across the street from the Museum of Science and Industry. The water is around 20-feet deep in the area.

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

Once rescued, he told the Chicago Fire Department that he didn't know he was on water. CFD Marine Unit Chief Jason Lach said the man is a local college student. The student told FOX 32 he is from California.

"He had no idea he was on the ice at first," Lach said. "He was more than 1,000 feet offshore on broken ice."

On the way back in, Lach said rescue crews were hitting patches of open water, proving the situation to be dangerous. Lach said it's easy to make the mistake of wandering onto the lake with the heavy snowfall the area has received. 


Witnesses said the man was seen walking around the lake for about 40 minutes. 

"He was very far into the lake and then all of a sudden he disappeared, and we were terribly worried that he was going to fall into the lake, so we called 911," said Deirdre Squires, who swims in the lake each morning. "The lake is frozen, but it's only been frozen for two days … so it any point he could have hit a weak spot "

The man was escorted off the ice by emergency personnel in an inflatable canoe just after 8 a.m.  He was seen waving emergency crews away, not realizing the crews and commotion were all to rescue him.

One bystander says the man should be arrested, adding it was emotional to watch. He was ticketed with disorderly conduct. 

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

Officials with the Chicago Fire Department are reminding the public not to attempt what this man did on Friday, as it was extremely dangerous and could have easily ended in tragedy.

"The lake is still very much alive and running underneath that ice," said Larry Langford with CFD. "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."