1 remains missing, 2 seriously injured in separate incidents in Chicago’s ‘Playpen’ area of ​​Lake Michigan – NBC Chicago

In less than a week, one person remains missing and two others have been seriously injured in or near the Chicago boat lair known as “The Playpen,” a Lake Michigan federal boat dock near Navy Pier which has been a staple of the downtown boat party scene. for years.

At around 5.15pm on Saturday, while floating on a raft, a woman had her feet severed and another injured her hand after being caught in the propeller of a yacht which had started to drift. Authorities say the captain of the rented boat, 70, said he was struggling with a faulty anchor, but a lawyer for the woman who lost both feet said the accident was caused by a neglect.

In Wednesday’s accident, the US Coast Guard and local authorities searched Thursday morning for a person who fell from a boat around 7 p.m. between the Jardine water filtration plant and the park.

“It’s a very small area with a lot of boats wanting to go there every weekend,” said Ryan Remsing, manager of Chicago-area boat rental company SailTime. “It multiplies the danger: moving people, moving boats. It’s an area that’s going to have accidents because there’s so much boat movement.

According to the authorities, boaters can stay in the park all day and all night if necessary. It doesn’t have a capacity limit, but officials can use other laws to control the area’s density with boats, according to Illinois Conservation Police Sgt. Joshua Mooi.

“There’s not much that can be regulated in terms of how many boats and where,” Mooi said. “There are some things we are doing to reduce the density of boat and people population.”

This includes enforcing the buoy line along Ohio Street at the border of the anchorage area, and issuing citations when boaters are speeding or reckless, Mooi said.

Most of the laws broken in the park are unrelated to the rowdy party. The most common citations relate to lack of life jackets, missing boat registrations and driving a boat without lights after dark, Mooi said.

“Chicago is fortunate that the park is both a blessing and a curse,” Mooi said. “We know it’s going to be a mess of people with a lot of boats and there will probably be some accidents. But we are fortunate that it is an anchorage area that allows people to drop anchor and sleep on the boat” until they are sober enough to leave safely.

Authorities say it could take weeks or even months to complete their investigation into Saturday’s boating accident, and it’s unclear if any safety recommendations could come out of it.

“Every time something like this happens, we go through a safety review process in the investigation,” said Coast Guard Lt. Rachel Ault. “The investigation may lead to safety recommendations on how to prevent future incidents from occurring.”

Coast Guard and Department of Natural Resources investigators are interviewing more than two dozen people. Any potential citations or license suspensions — or safety recommendations — will not be issued until the investigation is complete, Ault said.

According to the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, which tracks drownings, at least 35 people have drowned in Lake Michigan so far this year.

The Chicago Sun-Times wire contributed to this report.

NBC Chicago

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