Waukegan suspends water search for teen missing after lake emergency

Updated 1/19/2019 1:21 PM

The search for a teenager missing since a water emergency Friday afternoon at Lake Michigan in Waukegan was unable to continue Saturday because of treacherous weather, authorities said.

The Waukegan Fire Department assessed conditions Saturday morning when considering whether to resume in-water searches for a teenager missing since about 4:30 p.m. Friday. But crews determined "it would not be safe for any sort of water recovery operations to take place," according to a news release from Waukegan Fire Marshal Steven Lenzi.


"Gale-force" winds expected off the lake during and after Saturday's snowstorm created "extremely dangerous" icy conditions, the statement said.

According to the National Weather Service, Lake and Cook counties were to remain under a lakeshore flood advisory until 9 a.m. Sunday. The advisory warns onshore winds of 30 to 35 mph could produce waves of 7 to 10 feet in height, driving up already above-average lake levels and potentially causing flooding.

Despite stormy conditions, crews conducted a ground search of Waukegan Municipal Beach and harbor Saturday morning and planned to continue ground searches until they deem it safe to resume in-water recovery efforts.

The teen went missing after jumping into the lake to help someone who had slipped off a pier at Stiner Pavilion and fallen in, authorities said Friday. When a 911 call came in about two people struggling in the water, firefighters responded and determined one person was able to get out of the water. That person was taken to Vista East Medical Center in Waukegan, but a condition report was not available.

Despite searching until late Friday with divers and a boat, firefighters could not locate the missing person as the weather and visibility worsened.

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