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Boy, 14, dies after being pulled from Lake Michigan in Waukegan

Sun-Times file photo

A 14-year-old boy died Friday night after being pulled from Lake Michigan in north suburban Waukegan.

Firefighters responded about 6 p.m. to a call of a person struggling in the water near the Stiner Pavilion and the main pier at the Waukegan Municipal Beach, according to Waukegan Fire Marshal Steven Lenzi. While they were on the way, emergency crews were informed that the person had gone under water and could no longer be seen.

When they arrived, fire crews and Waukegan police officers interviewed witnesses to determine where the person was last seen, Lenzi said. Witnesses told investigators that four people were swimming between the two piers in the commercial harbor channel, where swimming was prohibited.

Two of the swimmers were still on the pavilion side, while another had safely swum across the channel before being helped out of the water by onlookers, Lenzi said. The last swimmer had gone under water after struggling for an unknown amount of time.

Divers located the swimmer after thirty minutes of searching and brought the person onto a rescue boat, where life-saving measures were initiated, Lenzi said. The person was then brought to shore.

A waiting ambulance took the person to Vista Medical Center East in Waukegan in “extremely critical condition,” Lenzi said.

The boy, who was identified as 14-year-old Antony O’Conner from Waukegan, died at the hospital, according to the Lake County Coroner’s Office.

The preliminary results of an autopsy Monday indicated he died from drowning, according to a statement from Lake County Coroner Dr. Howard Cooper. Toxicology tests were pending.

“This was truly an awful tragedy,” Cooper said. “We urge everyone to stay out of the channel. It is not a safe area to swim and we certainly don’t want any more catastrophes.”