CHICAGO — Authorities are warning people in the Chicago area about water safety in changing weather after a man died and another was rescued on rough Lake Michigan waters this weekend.
Jose Rubio, 31, was out on a boat with his 28-year-old brother and another friend Saturday. He and his brother jumped in the lake to cool off, and suddenly, the wind and the weather changed, stirring Lake Michigan, and sweeping the swimmers nearly a quarter mile from their boat.
Chicago Fire Department divers pulled the two men out of the water near Diversey Harbor that afternoon.
Rubio, a father of three, was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead. His brother was taken to a nearby hospital and was later released.
Authorities said it’s a tragic reminder of how conditions can change quickly on the lake – especially since water levels are unusually high this year.
So far in 2019, there have been 39 drownings in the Great Lakes — nearly half of them in in Lake Michigan, according to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project. Rubio’s drowning represents the 19th so far this year on Lake Michigan.
The organization said say anyone swimming needs to know the basic lifesaving technique similar to stop, drop and roll for fire safety.
If you’re drowning remember: flip, float and follow. Flip to have your face above water, try to float and follow the current — don’t fight it.
Part of the issue on Saturday, according to authorities, was that the friend left in the boat didn’t know how to navigate it.
Chief Jason Lach, Chicago Fire Department Marine and Dive Operations, said boaters need to know how to operate their vessels.
“They need to have safety equipment on at all times and know to pay attention to weather conditions-they can change rather quickly. Lake Michigan is just a small ocean,” he said.
Authorities also had to rescue another man shortly after – a boater ran into trouble, but dive team rescued him quickly.
“The water conditions changed. the lake rose coming into Diversey Harbor which can be dangerous. boat lost control, hit the side wall,” Lach said.
Rubio’s widow said her husband was a good father, and said he will be sorely missed. Rubio's family started a GoFundMe page to help with funeral costs.