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Waukegan authorities call off months-long search for teen in Lake Michigan

Unfavorable swim conditions put a halt to the swimming portion of the Chicago Triathalon Aug. 25, 2019.
File photo | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Waukegan authorities on Tuesday called off a search for a teenager who jumped into Lake Michigan to save someone else.

Sonar searches for a 16-year-old boy at Waukegan Municipal Beach had been called off since four days after he went missing on Jan. 18, the Waukegan Fire Dept. said in a statement. Icy conditions on the lake had prevented boats and divers from entering the water, and efforts were limited to land-based searches.

It was deemed safe on Tuesday for divers to resume their search, the department said. Sonar equipment was used to search the piers and rocky edges of the beach, but the boy was not found.

“Our personnel were hoping to be able to provide closure for the family,” Waukegan Fire Marshal Steven Lenzi said in the statement, “however after extensive search of the area we were not able to locate him.”

The fire department had been searching for the boy since he jumped into Lake Michigan to save another teen who fell in the water, officials said at the time. The teen who initially fell in was pulled out of the water by police and given CPR. The teen who jumped in remained missing.

Fire crews responded to the area near Stiner Pavilion at the beach and searched for 90 minutes before limiting the recovery operation to “ground searches” due to poor visibility and treacherous waves, the department said.