CHESTERTON — Lt. John McMahon and fellow Porter officer Kevin Rospierski saw a glimpse of an arm in Lake Michigan just before diving into choppy waters Saturday night in an attempt to save a 14-year-old boy who had reportedly been pulled under.
McMahon said he and Rospierski ran down to the shore at the Indiana Dunes State Park, tore off their duty belts and vests, and dove in after the boy.
“When we were in the water, it was taking our feet out from underneath us and pulling us under. The undertow was tremendous in that area,” McMahon recalled. “Once we pulled him out of the water and brought him to shore, Chesterton officer Nick Brown started CPR and then I took over.”
McMahon learned the next morning that the 14-year-old boy — identified Sunday night as Malik Freeman, of Aurora, Illinois, did not survive after he was taken to University of Chicago Medical Comer Children’s Hospital.
Neither did the 10-year-old boy that he, Rospierski, Porter officer Art Elwood, several lifeguards and other police, fire and EMS personnel tried to save that same day and at the same beach.
“That’s the hard part. You try your hardest,” McMahon said.
The 10-year-old boy — Joshua Torres, from Chicago — was found with his face down in the water about 40 yards away from shore, according to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.
The young boy's body was retrieved and CPR was performed. He was transported to Porter Regional Hospital where he was pronounced dead.
The two drowning incidents occurred less than an hour apart and McMahon was on the scene for both calls. Staying calm in chaotic situations is part of the job description, he said.
Freeman was pronounced dead at 12:05 a.m. Sunday at University of Chicago Medical Comer Children’s Hospital, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office. An autopsy has been scheduled.
Indiana conservation officers are currently investigating both incidents.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources said that during the time of the two incidents, the Indiana Dunes State Park had placed water restrictions at the location, only allowing swimmers to go into waist deep water.
Porter EMS, Porter fire, Porter police, Chesterton police, Chesterton fire, Burns Harbor police and Indiana Dunes State Park staff assisted in the incident.
Check back at nwi.com for updates as they become available.