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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
her part, said that she and other Conservation Officers were unable to
recollect the last time someone drowned at a guarded Indiana Dunes State
“The lifeguards on
Saturday did a fabulous job,” Craig noted. “They did a phenomenal job
remaining calm and providing medical care.”
Saturday, in addition to the PFD, PPD, and CPD, were the Chesterton Fire
Department, Burns Harbor Police Department, IDSP staff, and Porter EMS.