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Wilmette (IL) Firefighters Rescue Kite Surfer from Lake Michigan

Wilmette Fire Department

Karen Ann Cullotta

Pioneer Press Newspapers, Suburban Chicago, Ill.


A kite surfer who found himself in distress while out on choppy Lake Michigan waters Monday morning was rescued by Wilmette firefighters, authorities said.

The fire department received a 911 call around 11:30 a.m. from a resident living in a lakeside condominium building, who was looking out the window and spotted “someone’s head bobbing up and down in the water,” Wilmette Fire Chief Ben Wozney said.

Firefighters headed to Gillson Park beach, where they used a six-wheel ATV to launch an inflatable boat from the shoreline. They then headed about half a mile into the lake, where they rescued a man who had been kitesurfing with a companion when he became separated from his board and sail, Wozney said.

Kitesurfing, also known as kiteboarding, is allowed on the lake, and those who enjoy the sport often take advantage of windy weather, Wozney said.

In this case, Wozney said the wind shifted suddenly, causing the man to lose contact with the board and sail, and prompting him to try to swim back to the shoreline through two- to three-foot waves.

“Anyone planning to go out on the lake should pay attention to the weather reports before they head out, and they should never do it alone,” Wozney said.

The man, who authorities did not identify, was wearing a full wet suit and was not injured during the incident, Wozney said, adding: “He was in good spirits.”

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