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Missing Orland Park man’s body found in lake near Navy Pier

Emergency crews  search Tuesday morning for 29-year-old man who fell out boLake Michigan near Navy Pier late Monday. |

Emergency crews search Tuesday morning for a 29-year-old man who fell out of a boat in Lake Michigan near Navy Pier late Monday. | John H. White~Sun-Times.

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Updated: July 5, 2011 1:40PM

A relative of a 29-year-old Orland Park man confirmed that his body was pulled from Lake Michigan after he fell out of a boat in Lake Michigan near Navy Pier late Monday.

Crews responded about 10:15 p.m. Monday to a report of a male who fell out of a boat into Lake Michigan east of Randolph Drive, police News Affairs Officer Hector Alfaro said.

The man, identified by relatives as Christopher Szmajlo, was on a sailboat Monday night and as the boat approached the shore someone did a head count and noticed he was missing, a source said Tuesday morning. People above deck thought he may have been below deck and the people below deck thought he was above deck, the source said. There were conflicting reports of how long it was before the others on the sailboat realized Szmajlo was missing, the source said. It was unknown if he was last seen either 5, 15 or 30 minutes before the others on the boat noticed he was missing. “Somewhere along the ride he apparently fell in,” the source said. The people on the boat then notified authorities and a search was initiated.

It was not yet known as of Tuesday morning where or when he fell in the water. It was also not known if he had been wearing a life vest, the source said.

Police were on the scene first, followed by fire department crews. Police said divers searched the lake about a half-mile from shore for Szmajlo. An uncle at Szmajlo’s home Tuesday confirmed it was his body pulled from the water.

The Chicago Fire Department said it responded to the area of 600 E. Grand Ave., near Navy Pier, which had an Independence Day fireworks show that started about 9:30 p.m.

The fire department brought in boats and a helicopter equipped with an infrared camera. The infrared camera picks up heat on the water and would have detected the man if he had been on or close to the surface.

The search was temporarily suspended at 2:30 a.m. Tuesday after more than four hours, according to Alfaro.

The Chicago police Marine Unit resumed their search at 7 a.m. Tuesday, according to police News Affairs Officer Laura Kubiak.

At 10:16 a.m. Tuesday the body was pulled from the water in that area of Lake Michigan, the source said.

The U.S. Coast Guard assisted in the search efforts. A Coast Guard spokesperson did not immediately have any comment Tuesday morning.

Contributing: Southtown Star

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