EAST CHICAGO | Antwain Hall, 9, had been looking forward to a repeat trip with a friend to Wolf Lake to cool off on a hot day, said his dad, Michael Hall.
The anticipated fun-filled Friday afternoon to a nearby Hammond lake turned tragic when Antwain was pulled underwater and died from an apparent drowning.
"Our neighbors, who he had gone with, came back yesterday to tell us they couldn't find him in the water. He didn't come back home with them," Michael Hall said Saturday.
Hall and Antwain's sister, Alvina Hunter, spoke about the loss while on the front porch of their East Chicago home.
"He was smart, and he was cool," Alvina said of her younger brother, who would have turned 10 on July 11.
Antwain was pulled from Wolf Lake in Hammond at 7:14 p.m. after he was reported missing at 5:45 p.m. while swimming with a friend, Hammond Police Chief Brian Miller said.
Antwain was transported to Franciscan St. Margaret Health hospital in Hammond, where he was pronounced dead, Miller said.
Hall said his son had been taught how to swim but an undertow apparently had pulled him under the water.
Hall voiced disappointment there isn't better supervision at the lake for young swimmers, like his son.
"There should have been someone watching, like lifeguards, at the lake," Hall said.
Wolf Lake is not a designated beach so there are no lifeguards, Hammond Fire Chief Jeff Smith said.
There are hired security workers, who drive around the area in golf carts, warning people to stay out of the water, Smith said.
Smith said he's uncertain of whether there are no-swimming signs posted in that area.
Antwain, a fifth-grader at McKinley Elementary School in East Chicago, liked to play computer games and basketball, his dad and sister said.
Antwain was a typical 9-year-old boy in that he listed several professions he wanted to become when he grew up, they said.
"He wanted to be a police officer, a wrestler and a professional basketball player," Hall said.
Other family members include his mom, Kinnon Hunter, and 1-year-old sister Mikal Hunter Hall.
Funeral services, which are pending, are being planned through the House of Branch Funeral Home in Chicago, Hall said.
Hammond police Lt. Richard Hoyda said Antwain and his friend swam out to the island in the lake while the friend's mother stayed on the edge of the water. While the boys were swimming back, they encountered a sand bar and that's when Antwain was lost in the water, Hoyda said.
The Lake County Sheriff's Department responded with its helicopter, and the Lake County Aquatic Team provided divers.
The death remains under investigation by Indiana conservation officers.
The official cause of death will be determined pending the results of an autopsy conducted by the Lake County coroner's office.