After girl drowns in Lake Michigan, petition seeks extended lifeguard hours

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CHICAGO — An online petition is seeking extended lifeguard hours in Chicago after a 13-year-old girl died in Lake Michigan last week.

Darinanne Torres, 13, was swimming with friends at Loyola Beach about 7:30 p.m. Friday when she and another girl, 14, were caught by a rip current. First responders were able to rescue the other girl quickly, officials said, but Darinanne was in the water for 45 minutes. She later died.

According to the Chicago Park District, swimming is only permitted when lifeguards are on duty, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily. Darinanne and her friends were in the water a half-hour after closing, according to police.

Now, an online petition is asking the city of Chicago to employ lifeguards at all city beaches for all daylight hours. According to the National Weather Service, the sun set in Chicago about 8:30 p.m. Friday. A beach hazard warning was in effect; beachgoers were told not to swim due to high waves and strong rip currents.

The Chicago Tribune reports that prior to 2009, city beaches had lifeguards on duty from 9 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. daily. Those positions were cut over budgetary concerns.

“With currently millions spent bringing people to the lakefront for recreation and tourism, we implore the city of Chicago to dedicate funds to safety and prevention rather than investing them in costly and tragic rescues,” the Change.org petition reads.

For more on the petition, click here.