Thursday, August 13, 2009

Nice Work, Pratt Beach Lifeguards

James Laden, 36, drowned on Wednesday after he and "another person" jumped from the concrete pier into rocky, shallow water at Pratt Beach (part of Loyola Park at 1045 W. Pratt Blvd). Why did it take lifeguards up to 12 minutes to pull him out of shallow water? It's reported that Laden and a friend jumped into Lake Michigan Wednesday afternoon. "The men had reportedly been fishing on the pier at Pratt Boulevard," reports ABC7 Chicago, "They went into the water, and one may have gotten tangled up in a fishing line. The police marine unit was able to rescue one of the victims, who was unharmed. James Laden, 36, was under water for up to 12 minutes before a lifeguard got him out. He was pronounced dead at St. Francis Hospital in Evanston." WBBM 780 AM reported that a Fire Media Affairs spokesman claims that a lifeguard pulled Laden out of the water, but that he may have become tangled in fishing line. What we don't hear is why two "fishermen" would jump off of that pier, where everyone knows the water is shallow and very rocky. Authorities don't explain why lifeguards are rarely seen on that pier. Was there alcohol involved? Drinking is a common practice on the end of that pier, in part because the lifeguards rarely bother to patrol it. I suppose it's possible that the light fishing line used at that pier by most fishermen prevented the big strong lifeguard from pulling him the 6 to 10 feet to the surface, but it seems unlikely. Reports all say that Laden was under the water for 10 to 12 minutes before the lifeguard got him out. There's no excuse for that. Had a lifeguard been stationed nearby, as one should have been, Laden might be alive today. Think about that. A young, healthy lifeguard can run the length of that pier in about 30 seconds. In the 10 years that I frequently visited that pier, in all weather, I have never seen a lifeguard stationed on it. The nearest ones are either lounging in a trailer or bobbing in a row boat in a part of the lake where the end of the pier cannot be seen. In other words, the pier has been a disaster waiting to happen for years. We have reported on the lifeguards at Pratt Beach previously: NO WARNING: Chicago Lifeguards Clueless (with video) No White Shoes (or Lifeguards) After Labor Day Update #2: Parking on Pratt (with photos) Are YOU a citizen of the United STRAIGHTS of America? Leave a Comment... Chicago News Bench RSS Feed We're on Twitter...