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Police foil lake suicide of man who texted ‘goodbye’ and ‘sorry’

Marine Officer Marcus Buenrostro (left) Sgt. Karl Hajdu prevented man from committing suicide along lakefront. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times

Marine Officer Marcus Buenrostro (left) and Sgt. Karl Hajdu prevented a man from committing suicide along the lakefront. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times

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Updated: June 13, 2013 6:30PM

Oftentimes, when police receive reports of someone committing suicide in Lake Michigan, they arrive to find only a pile of clothes — sometimes neatly folded at the water’s edge — and are too late to intervene.

So when officers crested a hill near Montrose Harbor and shined their flashlights on a man untying his shoes as waves slapped against a nearby breakwall, they hesitated for a moment in disbelief.

For once, they faced the private prelude rather than the aftermath of the deed.

“I ran down there and grabbed him right away,” Officer Marcus Buenrostro, 40, said about the May 2 incident. “I could feel him try to make a motion towards the water, but we blocked his path.”

Moments earlier, Buenrostro, a police marine unit officer stationed near Navy Pier, had received word from police in west suburban Addison that the cellphone signal of a suicidal man had been tracked to the area near Montrose Harbor. The man had texted his family: “goodbye” and “sorry.”

Less than 10 minutes later, after speeding north on Lake Shore Drive under sirens and lights, Buenrostro arrived in the harbor parking lot with three other officers.

Seconds later, in a stroke of luck, the officers found the suicidal man’s Pontiac and made a beeline for the water, where they found the man, who was in his 20s, crouching down undoing his shoelaces.

“Usually when we get there, they’ve already done what they wanted to do. You’re just recovering these people, and you never really feel anything,” said Buenrostro, who estimates he has dealt with at least 36 suicides in Lake Michigan and the Chicago River during his 12-year-career, all after the fact. “So it was pretty cool to get there this time. There wasn’t one hiccup in getting there. . . . It just wasn’t his time to go.”

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