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Woman walking dog rescues man drowning in Chicago River: ‘There was nobody else to do it’

A 36-year-old man who fell in to the water was in critical condition, police say.

Two people were rescued from the Chicago River May 28, 2020, near State Street and Wacker Drive.
Two people were rescued from the Chicago River May 28, 2020, near State Street and Wacker Drive.
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A woman who jumped in the Chicago River to rescue a drowning man on Thursday says she waited until it was clear that no one else was able to help him.

The scene unfolded about 1:45 p.m. when a 36-year-old man fell into the river near State Street and Wacker Drive, according to Chicago police.

Julie Macholz was walking her dog nearby when she heard a commotion near the State Street bridge.

She went over and saw a man bobbing up and down, Macholz, 57, told the Sun-Times.

“He was trying to keep his head above the water,” but was being pushed further into the river, she said.

Two men jumped a fence and threw two life preservers toward the man, but both missed him, according to Macholz, a retired Navy pilot who was a lifeguard in high school and college.

Police said a 52-year-old man jumped in to save to the man, but didn’t make it to him.

“I yelled at him, ‘If you can’t swim, I will go,’” Macholz said. “At that point, I yelled at someone to hold my dog, and I swam out and grabbed a ring.”

Macholz said she grabbed the man as he was “going under,” and pulled him to the side of the river before first responders had arrived.

Divers finally showed up and helped the pair to shore, she said.

“By the time I came up, it looked like a movie scene. The whole street was filled with trucks and cameras.”

The 36-year-old who fell in the water was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, police said. He was listed in critical condition.

Macholz said she hopes she pulled the man out in time, and hopes he recovers.

“This was definitely not part of something I was planning on doing. There was nobody else to do it,” Macholz said, adding that she “got a towel out of it.”

The 52-year-old man who jumped in refused medical treatment, police said.