Entries in Lake Michigan (2)


Hero Surgeon Dies in Lake Michigan Rescue Despite Wife's Efforts To Save Him

Courtesy Dana Suskind(CHICAGO) -- A surgeon plunged into Lake Michigan's waters roiled by rip tides and rough waves to save two young boys, but died despite his wife's frantic efforts to revive him with mouth to mouth resuscitation, police and his wife said Monday.

Dr. Donald Liu, chief of pediatric surgery at the University of Chicago Medicine's Comer Children's Hospital, saw the two boys, who were friends of the family, swept up in the water. Despite protests from his own children, who were scared about the dangerous conditions, Liu went in to save them.

"You couldn't stop him," Liu's wife, Dr. Dana Suskind, told ABC News Monday. "He always did the right thing."

The two boys made it back to the shore near Cherry Beach in Chikaming, but Liu, 50, did not survive the 6-foot swells and treacherous currents.

"After he saved those boys and I couldn't see him, they finally found him and they pulled him from the water. I tried to do mouth-to-mouth, but I knew. And it was so painful," Suskind said between sobs.

The Coast Guard was responding to a call in a nearby area when they received the call to rescue Liu and were unable to get to him in time.

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Conditions were ripe for a dangerous rip tide, said Erik Leuenberger, chief of response for the Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan. The wind Sunday was 18 knots, which Leuenberger said was about 21 mph.

"When we see a pretty strong wind come from the northwest, it's going to create a strong rip current condition in the southeast part of the lake," Leuenberger said.

Three people drowned on Lake Michigan Sunday, Leuenberger said.

"Everything [Liu] did, everything he talked about was always for the children," said Jeffrey Matthews, chairman of the Department of Surgery at the University of Chicago Medicine. "And so the tragedy is that he died, of course, as a hero doing what he did every day, which was saving children."

Suskind, crying at times, gave the emotional interview the day after her husband drowned because she wanted her three children to read about how great their father was.

"He wore scrubs all the time. He would've gotten married in his scrubs if he could. He was so understated, but really such a huge stature," Suskind said.

Despite long days in the office, Liu would always come home ready to play with his children Genevieve, 13, Asher, 10, and Amelie, 7. He especially loved throwing the baseball around, a pastime that meant a lot to Asher.

Liu was a passionate man and when he knew something was right, he didn't hesitate. Suskind said Liu told her he loved her on their second date and they were engaged three months later. They were married for more than 17 years, having met during their residencies at the University of Pennsylvania in 1992. Both Liu and Suskind worked at the University of Chicago Medicine since 2001.

"He was known as a selfless individual who was completely devoted to children," Matthews said.

"People will tell you that he's the heart and soul of our pediatric programs," Matthews said. "And always going the extra mile. He was tireless. You know, the kind of guy would operate all day and all night and say, 'Where do we have to go next?' And he would do whatever the children needed."

Chikaming Township's Assistant Police Chief Todd Taylor said, "It was a unique circumstance because this was a brave guy going out to try to help some kids."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Chicago Woman Mary Kovats Commandeers Boat and Saves Capsized Husband's Life

Thinkstock Images/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- Rear Commodore Mary Kovats commandeered a ship at the harbor and headed into cold and rocky waters on a rescue mission. Three men had gone missing from their boat during a storm, and Kovats was determined to find them, according to reports.

It may sound like the plot of an adventure movie, but on Wednesday night Kovats reportedly headed out onto Lake Michigan in Chicago to find her husband and his two friends after a severe thunderstorm.

The trio had taken a 19-foot sailboat named "The Peter Pan" out for a ride at about 5 p.m. to celebrate Peter Kovats' 62nd birthday, according to The Chicago Tribune.

Mary Kovats told the Tribune that when she still hadn't heard from the men by 8 p.m, she began to get worried. The school teacher and rear commodore of the Chicago Corinthian Yacht Club decided to head out onto the water and find them herself.

She boarded a power boat with two other yacht club members in Montrose Harbor and set out in search of her husband, ABC News affiliate WLS in Chicago reported.

About a half mile from shore, according to reports, she found all three men and their capsized boat bobbing in the water.

With the help of the two fellow yacht clubbers she recruited from the harbor, Kovats pulled the three men, also yacht club members, from the murky water and onto her boat and brought them back to land, according to WLS.

Once they made it to safety, Kovats used her marine radio to call the police for help.

Fire department spokesman Larry Langford said the men had likely been in the 30- to-40-degree waters for about 45 minutes. They were all found conscious, but suffering from hypothermia and having trouble communicating.

All three men were taken to the Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center.

Mary Kovats' husband, Peter Kovats, is still in the intensive care unit, said Noreen Keeney, director of public affairs at the Medical Center, but she added he's doing much better. The other two men, including Tenuta, were treated and released from the hospital, Keeney said.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio