Chicago Fire, Police and US Coast Guard Search Lake Michigan After ‘Man Overboard’ in Race to Mackinac

Chicago firefighters and divers responded about 2:50 p.m. Saturday July 21, 2018 with the U.S. Coast Guard to a report that a man wearing an inflatable life vest fell overboard from a racing yacht named Imedi and was in the water about 4 miles east of Navy Pier. Later firefighters learned that boaters said the man was possibly not wearing a life vest.

Winds were from the North at 10, gusting to 15 mph, at the time of the “man overboard” alert. Firefighters immediately went to work using an infrared FLIR camera, and were working with visual search operations. Firefighters called the boat to find out whether they knew the boat’s best position when the man went overboard. By 3:12 p.m. about six or seven rescue boats were immediately at the scene involved in the search.

The Transpac 52 (TP52) is a class of yacht used for competitive yacht racing — recognized by the International Sailing Federation.

According to the Mackinac Race Committee’s website, the sailboat’s location at the time of “man overboard” was about five nautical miles from the Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac starting line, just off the Chicago Harbor breakwall. The race starts at the Chicago Harbor Lighthouse, so the “man overboard” alert occurred when the board was not far from the Starting Line.

The U.S. Coast Guard said a sailor participating in the Race to Mackinac event fell overboard around 3:00 Saturday afternoon. The name, gender and age of the person was not immediately disclosed. One report stated the person is believed to be a man in his 50s, but another report stated the man is a 32 year-old male sailor. The Coast Guard sent a HH-65 Dolphin helicopter and boats to help with the search.

The man overboard alert was from Imedi, a Transpac 52 competing in the Turbo Section of the Race Mackinac.

The Chicago Police Department and Chicago Fire Department deployed helicopters and other assets to help. Many of the firefighters stopped search operations about 5:30 p.m. A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter refueled about 5:30 p.m. and was back at the scene about 5:45 p.m. The U.S. Coast Guard plans to continue the search until daylight is gone after sunset. If the man is not found, the search will be suspended until tomorrow.

Partial List CFD Assets in Search

ENGINE(S): E2 (Fire Boat) E ??

TRUCK(S): T ?? T ?? TL ??

SQD ?? CV ??

WATER RESPONSE: FAST BOAT 6-8-8,
SCUBA DIVE TEAM 6-8-7, RESCUE HELICOPTER 6-8-2

CHIEF(S): BC1, DEPUTY DISTRICT CHIEF (SCUBA) 6-8-6, SPECIAL OPERATIONS BC 5-1-5

EMS: A74 FC ?? STANDBY A ??

STAGING: Bus Station at Navy Pier, 600 East Grand Avenue

The boats in the 333-mile Race to Mackinac continue to race at night, while racing from the Chicago Lighthouse to Mackinac Island, Michigan. More than 3,000 sailors from 39 states and 16 countries are participating this year in the 110th annual race, which can take two to three days, depending on the winds.

Previously two sailors, Mark Morley, 51, and Suzanne Bickel, 41, died in the Race to Mackinac when winds from a thunderstorm capsized their boat near Fox Island, about 13 miles northwest of Charlevoix, Michigan in northern Lake Michigan in near midnight July 17-18, 2011 (Sunday/Monday). Six of the crew were rescued.


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