A woman who fell into the icy waters of Belmont Harbor on Sunday morning used her belt to strap herself to a dock before she was saved by a passing jogger who heard her screams for help.
The 30-year-old woman slipped off the boat that houses the Belmont Yacht Club at the northeast end of the harbor about 10:40 a.m., according to Sgt. Ruben Ramirez.
“It was pretty incredible because she missed all the surrounding ice and hit the water right on target,” Ramirez said.
“She took off her belt, lashed it to the dock, put her arm through it and hung on for dear life,” Police Marine Unit Sgt. Angel Romero said.
Yariv Becher was jogging nearby — and despite listening to music on headphones — he heard her screams and was able to help hold her above water and call 911.
“I saw her and told her, ‘Hold on! I’m coming,’ ” said Becher, 37. “She was shivering and very cold. She said her legs were numb and she couldn’t feel her hands . . . I couldn’t lift her all the way up.”
The woman was in the water for 15 to 20 minutes before police and fire department rescuers hoisted her to safety and rushed her to Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center, where she was treated for hypothermia and listed in good condition.
Becher almost decided not to leave his Lake View home Sunday morning.
“I wasn’t sure about going out for a run. It was snowing, but I said, ‘OK, I need to do some exercise,’ ” recalled Becher, who promotes business ties as the consul for economic affairs for the State of Israel in the Midwest.
“It’s pretty amazing,” Ramirez said. “She was a quick thinker and basically helped save her own life. . . . And the jogger, he’s a hero.”
Upon hearing that Ramirez describe him as a hero, Becher said: “That’s nice to hear.”
It’s the same description Becher’s wife, Yafit, used when telling their three children what their dad did.
The water temperature of Lake Michigan was about 35 degrees Sunday, Ramirez said.
Initial reports of a jogger falling into the water were incorrect.
A member of the yacht club didn’t have any information when contacted on Sunday afternoon. He said the club was closed for the winter.
And the woman was too cold and tired to share details of her predicament with Becher.
“People should be careful when they walk outside close to the lake,” said Becher, who goes for 4-mile runs on Saturdays and Sundays.
“It’s odd, I usually don’t go that way,” he said.
Becher, an atheist, attributed the circumstances to “luck, or coincidence, not divine intervention.”
“Anyone else in that situation would have done the same. It’s not that I did anything special, I was just there,” he said.