'Life-threatening' lake conditions to calm Sunday after 2 pulled from water die

SUN-TIMES MEDIA WIRE - A boat party on Lake Michigan was postponed Saturday as authorities continue to warn beachgoers and boaters about “life-threatening” high waves and dangerous rip currents following separate incidents early Saturday that left two men dead after they were pulled from the lake.

Jeremy D. Kennedy, 26, was getting off a boat early Saturday in the area of Jackson Park Beach near the 5900 block of South Lake Shore Drive when he fell in the water, according to Chicago Police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office. Other people on the boat then lost sight of him.

After being located by the police marine unit, Kennedy was taken to University of Chicago Medical Center where he died at 3:21 a.m., authorities said. He lived in the Washington Park neighborhood on the South Side.

Christopher Charnow, 28, died in a similar incident just over an hour later, according to the medical examiner’s office. Authorities were called about 3:45 a.m. to Oak Street Beach near the 1000 block of North Lake Shore Drive. A woman was able to get out of the water on her own, but Charnow was lost in crashing waves, authorities said.

A Chicago Fire Department dive team tracked Charnow down, brought him to shore and then to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 4:24 a.m., authorities said. He lived in Royal Oak, Michigan.

The National Weather Service issued a beach hazard warning for Lake and Cook counties that expired about 9 p.m. Saturday.

Waves in Lake Michigan ranged from 3 to 5 feet tall Saturday night, but were expected to calm overnight with 1- to 2-foot waves and lighter winds by Sunday morning, according to National Weather Service meteorologist Kevin Birk.

The Lake Michigan boat party near Navy Pier was postponed Saturday morning due to high waves, according to an Instagram post from the organizer, Chicago Scene Magazine. The event was rescheduled for Sunday.

“People visiting the beaches should stay out of the water,” the NWS warning states.

Swimming bans were in effect as of 9 p.m. Saturday for several Chicago beaches, including Fargo, Foster, Hartigan, Helen Doria, Howard, Juneway, Leone, Loyola, MM Griffin, Montrose, Rogers, South Shore and Tobey Prinz. Swim advisories were posted at several others, including 57th Street, Humboldt, Lane, MT Burroughs, North Avenue, North Shore, Oak Street, Ohio Street, Osterman and Rainbow.

The Chicago Fire Department held a press conference Saturday morning near North Avenue Beach to further warn of the dangerous conditions. Officials advised beachgoers to pay attention to lifeguards and any posted advisories from the Chicago Park District.