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Marine from Lockport rescues woman from Lake Michigan

2nd Lt. Nicholas Dominguez U.S. Marine from Lockport who made lifesaving rescue Monday Lake Michigan stands with his girlfriend DianHunt.

2nd Lt. Nicholas Dominguez, a U.S. Marine from Lockport who made a lifesaving rescue Monday on Lake Michigan, stands with his girlfriend Diana Hunt. | SUBMITTED PHOTO

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Updated: July 21, 2012 6:19AM

A Marine from southwest suburban Lockport saved the life of a woman struggling in the waters of Lake Michigan, and then swam out deeper in search of her friend.

The Marine’s mother also helped her son in the lifesaving effort near Beverly Shores, Ind.

Marine 2nd Lt. Nicholas Dominguez saved Eveyln Hernandez and brought her to safety on a sand bar in the lake on Monday. Hernandez and her friend had become separated from their raft off the Indiana coast.

Dominguez, 22, is a recent graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, and had been commissioned a Marine second lieutenant on Friday. He is a graduate of Lockport Township High School.

Dominguez’s mother, Jeanne Dominguez, of Lockport, was able to assist him and then assist in the search for Hernandez’s friend, Leonel Dominguez, 31, of New York City, who is not related to the Lockport family.

Rescue crews were still looking for Leonel Dominguez Tuesday afternoon.

Nicholas Dominguez and his mom had gone to Beverly Shores on Monday to visit Jeanne’s former neighbors. Jeanne grew up in that area.

“We were just on the beach on a sunny day with our dogs,” Nicholas said.

At some point they noticed the raft floating in the water and two swimmers nearby, he said.

“I wanted to just go in and see if they needed help. I’m fairly confident in my ability. I wasn’t worried about how far out it was,” Nicholas said.

“I don’t know if I said anything, but I just handed my mom my sunglasses, and made for the water.”

The waves made it hard for him to see Hernandez at first.

“But when I was finally able to see her, I yelled that I was coming and that’s when she started yelling: ‘Help me, help me, I’m exhausted.’ I got to her and grabbed her around the waist and took her back to a sand bar where she could stand.”

Jeanne swam out to help her son.

“My mom, she was worried for me, so she followed me after a while,” said Nicholas, who left Hernandez on a sand bar and then went in search of her friend.

“When I swam deeper, I didn’t see him. We were yelling his name. So I swam deeper out. And it never occurred to me that he would go under. I just thought that he had drifted further away with the current.”

A Coast Guard boat arrived on the scene, and Nicholas went back to the sand bar, not wanting to interfere.

Hernandez told emergency responders that she “never would have made it” without the efforts of Nicholas Dominguez, said Gene Davis, conservation officer with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

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