Weather Updates

13-year-old girl rescued from ice near Belmont Harbor


Updated: February 9, 2014 8:05PM

After crawling across dangerously thin ice, a Chicago firefighter rescued a 13-year-old girl who wandered away from her mother and onto the frozen surface of Lake Michigan near Belmont Harbor on Sunday morning.

The barefoot girl, who has autism, according to the Fire Department, squirmed and resisted as the firefighter picked her up and carried her about 100 feet back to shore about 10:45 a.m.

“He picked her up and kept a low center of gravity and was able to walk back with her,” Deputy District Chief Ron Dorneker said. “On his way to the girl, he was looking for any cracks in the ice so he could choose a good path back.”

The firefighter was from Squad One — a group made up of technical rescue experts who are akin the special forces unit of the fire department. “None of these guys are 110 pounds. They’re all big guys,” Dorneker said.

So it took a bit of luck helped keep the firefighter and the girl from falling through the ice on the way to shore.

The girl was taken to Presence St. Joseph Hospital before hypothermia set in and was expected to OK. She had been on the ice for about five to 10 minutes, Dorneker said.

Firefighters initially had trouble locating the girl because her mother, who called 911, used the only landmark she could see to describe their position: a clock tower at Waveland Avenue.

When it became apparent the girl wasn’t there, rescuers fanned out and eventually found her.

In two separate incidents Sunday, firefighters verbally warned people off the lakefront ice without incident.

“The lake is beautiful right now with the ice formations, but people who want a better view don’t understand where the lake begins and the shoreline ends,” Dorneker said. “Please, don’t get so close. You don’t need to get that close to get a good view.”

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