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Man drowns attempting to rescue nephew

Posted at 12:51 AM, Jul 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-04 00:51:45-04

CHICAGO (WLS/CNN) – A Chicago man died Monday after he jumped into Lake Michigan to try and save his 11-year-old nephew, who had fallen into the water.

James Hammond, 31, and three children – his nephew, his niece and a young family friend – were in a boat on the lake, fire officials say. The 11-year-old boy fell in the water when the inflatable donut he was on flipped over.

When his nephew fell in the lake, Hammond jumped in to help the child but quickly went under.

"As my nephew started to drift away, my brother hopped in, and as he was swimming towards him, a riptide pulled him down and he took in a lot of water in the lungs and drowned,” said the victim’s brother, Michael Hammond.

The two children still in the boat got the attention of the Chicago Park District lifeguards by blowing whistles. The lifeguards rowed out to rescue the boy, who was wearing a life jacket.

"You could see the little boy bobbing in the water with his life jacket on, just barely. You could barely see him, and they got out there so fast and swooped him up,” witness Kari Mitchell said.

A helicopter dive team pulled Hammond out of the water. He was unresponsive and transported to the University of Chicago Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead, officials say.

"We always take the stance that personal floatation devices should be worn in and around the water, especially when boating,” said Ron Dorneker with the Chicago Fire Department.

Hammond’s nephew is in good condition, and neither of the two other children was injured.

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