Chesterton Tribune



Two boys drown at State Park beach within an hour's time

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Two Illinois boys drowned late Saturday afternoon at Indiana Dunes State Park beach, in unrelated incidents, within the space of an hour, the Department of Natural Resources is reporting.

Lifeguards were on duty at the time but a breezy north wind had made the lake choppy and water restrictions were in place, allowing swimmers to go no further than waist-deep, DNR said.

The first incident occurred at approximately 4:45 p.m., DNR said, when Joshua Torres, 10, of Chicago, was found “face-down in the water approximately 40 yards from shore.” Porter Fire Chief Jay Craig told the Chesterton Tribune today that a bystander discovered Joshua and that at the time the boy apparently wasn’t known to be missing.

Joshua was brought to shore and CPR immediately started. He was subsequently transported to Porter Regional Hospital (PRH) and “given life-saving measures” but “never revived,” Porter County Chuck Harris said in a statement released on Sunday. He was pronounced dead shortly after 7 p.m.

Then, approximately an hour after Joshua was found in the water, two on-duty Porter Police officers, Lt. John McMahon and Officer Kevin Rospierski were searching for a second boy, who had previously been reported missing--a 14-year-old Illinois resident whom the DNR has not identified--when they spotted an arm pop up in the waves, some 50 yards from shore. Craig said. The officers stripped off their tactical vests, dropped their duty belts, and waded into the lake, where they succeeded in locating the boy and, assisted by Porter Volunteer Firefighter Ron Augustyn, pulling him to shore.

There Chesterton Police Officer Nick Brown initiated CPR on the boy, until he was transported to PRH. The boy was later airlifted to Comer Children’s Hospital in Chicago, where he died early Sunday morning, DNR said.

Although Craig said that McMahon and Rospierski reported that “they could feel the water pulling at their legs,” DNR has not confirmed rip current activity at Indiana Dunes State Park on Saturday. A rip current is a strong narrow flow of water outward from the beach into the lake, caused when a north wind piles up waves near the shore. Eventually those waves break through a point in a sand bar and rush back into the lake.

Conservation Officer Terri Millefoglie told the Tribune that the separate drownings are being investigated by two different teams, which haven’t yet reached any determination on how or why the drownings might have occurred.

Millefoglie did say that the two victims were found in water “further than waist-deep” but it’s unknown where in the lake they originally went under.

Drownings at Indiana Dunes State Park beach are extremely rare and drownings when lifeguards are on duty virtually unheard of. Brandt Baughman, North Region Manager for Indiana State Parks and formerly property manager at Dunes State Park, is aware of only three drownings at the beach since 2004 but in all three cases, he said, the victims were in the water either early or late in the day when lifeguards were not on duty.

Millefoglie, for her part, said that she and other Conservation Officers were unable to recollect the last time someone drowned at a guarded Indiana Dunes State Park.

“The lifeguards on Saturday did a fabulous job,” Craig noted. “They did a phenomenal job remaining calm and providing medical care.”

Responding on Saturday, in addition to the PFD, PPD, and CPD, were the Chesterton Fire Department, Burns Harbor Police Department, IDSP staff, and Porter EMS.



Posted 8/20/2018




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