Person falls from boat at Chicago ‘Playpen’, crews suspend water search in Lake Michigan, authorities say

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Witnesses told Chicago police and firefighters that a person fell off a boat and into the water of Lake Michigan Saturday afternoon.

On a busy afternoon at the Chicago Playpen, security teams responded to several emergency calls.

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Crews could be seen searching the water near the closed boating area near downtown. After about an hour of searching for someone who may have fallen into the water, security teams called off their search for the evening, authorities told ABC7.

“All of a sudden we started seeing helicopters flying around and a lot of ambulances and firefighters and dive teams and everything else, so we knew something was going on,” said witness Ted Widen .

Widen was on a separate boat. He said the good weather brought a large crowd to the “Playpen” on Saturday.

“It was the busiest day of the year, definitely a weekday or weekend,” Widen said. “There were really a lot of people. And then there was an event, the black yacht weekend as we call it, and so there were hundreds of boats moored. It’s a great time if it’s is done correctly and safely, and there’s always just a little bit carried away or sometimes it’s just an accident, they slip, fall, boom, and that’s it.

The Chicago Fire Department is now calling efforts to find the person a recovery mission.

“Unfortunately, we see this every year because there are a lot of people going to the park,” said Dave Benjamin, executive director of the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project. “Alcohol could be a factor. There are a lot of people. And a small fall from a boat could have fatal consequences.”

Benjamin said the city was entering peak drowning season and Sunday’s Father’s Day wind forecast was concerning. Rough waves could create very dangerous conditions for those on the water.

“We just don’t want the family’s fun day at the beach to turn into a tragedy that he then has to live with, and then make it worse tomorrow, Father’s Day,” Benjamin said. “We know there’s going to be a lot of people on the beach. It’s going to be hot. People want to get out and have fun, but keep the inflatables at home from the south end of Lake Michigan and north , understand. The water will become more turbulent and there will be several types of dangerous currents.”

Very few details allowing the identification of the person who fell into the water are known. The age and gender of the person were not yet officially known.

ABC7 is investigating when the marine unit will be able to continue its search.

No further information was immediately available.

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