DOWNTOWN — A young woman who told rescuers she "wanted to go swimming" was pulled from the Chicago River Wednesday morning by a tour boat crew who just happened to be preparing for a rescue drill when she went into the water, authorities said.
Robert L. Agra, vice president of Chicago's Fair Lady tour boat fleet, said the tour boat was in the river east of the Michigan Avenue bridge when crew members saw the woman in the water about 11 a.m.
Agra said the boat's crew is trained annually by the Coast Guard on how to handle rescues, and Wednesday happened to be the day that Coast Guard crew members were inspecting the boat. The inspection includes checking life jackets and monitoring a rescue of a dummy affectionately nicknamed "Bernie" from the river, Agra said.
Shortly after pulling out of the dock, the boat's captain and crew yelled, "Man overboard!" The Coast Guard crew initially thought they were starting the drill prematurely, then realized someone actually was in the water, Agra said.
"Someone was in the water. We had to get them out," said Stafford Crossland, captain of Chicago's Fair Lady.
The crew proceeded toward the woman and put an aluminum ladder in the river. A crew member put on a life jacket, climbed down the ladder and helped the woman out of the water, Crossland said.
Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said the tour boat notified the department of the rescue. The woman, possibly in her 20s, was evaluated by paramedics at the scene and taken to Northwestern Hospital alert and conscious, Langford said.
After being pulled from the water the woman said, "She wanted to go swimming," Crossland said.
Langford said alcohol may have been involved.