1 dead, 1 hospitalized after boat capsizes in Lake Michigan: authorities

Written By BY JON SEIDEL, ASHLEE REZIN AND MITCH ARMENTROUT Staff Reporters Posted: 07/03/2014, 06:22am
Array A woman is rescued from the South Side stretch of Lake Michigan nearly 12 hours after a boat capsized Saturday afternoon, and Chicago authorities are still searching for several who still may be in the water. | Alex Wroblewski/Sun~Times

One person died, one was rescued and two others are missing after a boat capsized Saturday night in Lake Michigan, authorities said.

A man and a woman were pulled from the lake Sunday morning. After searching 1,800 square miles of water, rescue crews ended their search Sunday night, authorities said.

Ashley Haws, 26, was taken to Mercy Hospital & Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead at 10:04 a.m., according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office. Her address was not available Monday morning.

A 29-year-old man was also taken to Mercy Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition, officials said.

According to preliminary information from police, four people had been on the boat: two men, ages 30 and 29; and two women, both 27; the 29-year-old man was rescued.

They had traveled on the 33-foot cabin cruiser from Burnham Harbor to New Buffalo, Mich., and were returning to Chicago Saturday when the engine began to smoke, then caught fire, according to police. Power was lost, according to police, and the radio and bilge pump both failed. All four put on life jackets but got separated in the darkness as the ship capsized.

That preliminary police information indicates they fired flares from the boat. But Mark Stevens, commanding officer of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Calumet Harbor station, said no distress calls or flares were reported.

The Coast Guard and Chicago police and fire departments spent the day searching a 10-mile wide swath of 60-degree waters.

Authorities were not even aware a boat had capsized until Sunday morning. A fisherman saw what he thought was a kayak near the 31st Street Harbor about 6:15 a.m. Sunday. It was a man in a life vest more than 6 miles offshore, Chicago Fire Chief Joe Roccasalva said.

The fisherman, Joel Reiser, with Brush and Roll Charters, said he threw the man a life preserver and pulled him onto the boat. He called the U.S. Coast Guard, and rescue crews took the man to the hospital.

About two hours later, searchers found one of the women. She died at Mercy just after 10 a.m., authorities said.

The man told authorities the boat capsized about 7 p.m. Saturday — meaning he had been in the water about 12 hours, according to the Chicago Fire Department.

But the man “was a little confused” due to hypothermia, Roccasalva said, and gave differing versions of events.

Chicago Fire Deputy District Chief Ron Dorneker said crews had “ideal” searching conditions Sunday but found only some debris believed to be from the boat.

Contributing: Sam Charles, George Slefo

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