Chicago police marine units and Chicago firefighter/paramedics about 6:20 a.m. Sunday morning responded to a report of people in the water over two miles east of the 31st Street Harbor. At least one victim apparently drifted north and was discovered by a Chicago Police Marine Unit 3.
Initially firefighters reported the first victim stated there were five more victims in the water after they jumped from a burning boat about 7:00 p.m. Saturday. The first victim, suffering from hypothermia, was transported to Mercy Hospital. Water temperature is about 60 degrees.
Capt Joel Reiser, a fisherman, pulled the first victim into his boat. Rescuers now believe the victims, two men and two women, were coming back from New Buffalo, Michigan when smoke began to fill their 33-foot boat. The marine radio on board the boat did not work. The victims lit flares, but apparently were not seen by any other boaters or anyone on shore. When the boat started sinking, the victims jumped from the boat.
While the boat was burning it took on water, capsized, and sank.
All four victims were wearing floatation devices, but a large search area is designated because of the two victims that are missing. One of the GPS positions reported where a victim was found was 41°52′, -87°28′ which is about 2 1/2 miles east of Monroe Harbor. A piece of the boat was found near where officials believe the boat sank.
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Initially Chicago Police Department Marine Unit 3, Chicago Fire Department Fast Boat 6-8-8, and at least one Chicago Fire Department rescue helicopter responded to the GPS location where the victim was discovered. The search has expanded with three US Coast Guard Helicopters and a US Coast Guard C-130 joining the search Sunday morning.