Struggling Lake Michigan swimmer a false alarm, Evanston officials say

Katie Park

A report of a swimmer in distress in Lake Michigan this morning was unfounded, officials said.

A resident riding a bicycle along Northwestern’s Lakefill used an emergency box to report a swimmer struggling to stay afloat in the water at about 7:20 a.m. Tuesday, said University Police Deputy Cmdr. Dan McAleer.

The fire department and University Police responded within minutes to the scene with a water dive rescue team and a WaveRunner team, said Evanston Fire Division Chief Tom Janetske. The WaveRunner team conducted shoreline searches and sweeps but did not find anything, he said.

“The water was very clear, visibility was high,” Janetske said. “We spoke with several boaters who were in the area at the time, and they said they did not see anything.”

Fire and police members, with assistance from the U.S. Coast Guard, searched for about an hour. McAleer said UP officials continued to monitor the lakefront throughout the day.

McAleer said the caller had noticed a kayaker paddling north before calling for help. Police questioned the kayaker, who did not see anyone else in the water.

There were also numerous geese and swells in the water, McAleer said.

“I’d much rather someone call for help, even if they’re not sure,” he said.

Fire officials are confident the report was unfounded, Janetske said.

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