UPDATE: On Friday, the city reversed its decision.
CHICAGO — The Chicago Park District said it plans to put life rings along the Lake Michigan waterfront but only in areas that are considered safe to swim, upsetting the mother of a college student who drowned off a pier.
“I’m infuriated,“ said Maria Diaz, whose son, Miguel Cisneros, drowned last month in Rogers Park neighborhood.
“Don’t they have kids; aren’t they mothers, fathers? And how would they feel if (it were) their son?” Diaz said. “Because, believe me, you never think about this until it hits home. And it can happen to anyone.”
Cisneros, 19, drowned on Aug. 22, a few weeks before his planned departure for Columbia University in New York. A vigil for him was held Tuesday night.
Rogers Park residents have put life rings on the pier near where Cisneros died, but they have been removed by the Park District.
Instead, the Park District is discussing ways to restrict access to the piers while installing life rings elsewhere where it’s “safe to swim,” general counsel Timothy King said.
At a Wednesday meeting, a law professor said the Park District could be exposing itself to liability if life rings are placed in other locations. Water safety specialist Gerry Dworkin said the rings might give people a false sense of security in risky areas.
At least 77 people have drowned this year in the Great Lakes, including 35 in Lake Michigan, according to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project.
Not all Lake Michigan deaths were in Illinois.