ROGERS PARK — A 13-year-old girl died after being pulled from Lake Michigan near Rogers Park Beach on Tuesday, officials said.
Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said the girl was underwater for at least 45 minutes and was taken by paramedics to St. Francis Hospital in Evanston in "extremely critical condition." He later said she had died.
She was identified as Tianna Hollinside, 13, of the 1600 block of West Jonquil Terrance, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office. Several people who said they knew her said she lived with her aunt, mother and siblings.
"The waves were a bit much for her, she wasn't ready for that," a cousin told ABC7. "I jumped in and swam around to see if I could find her."
Officials said they got the call for a "person in the water" at 9:50 a.m. Tuesday morning.
The search continued until about 10:40 a.m. when the Fire Department's Marine Unit divers pulled a girl from the water near the 7700 block of North Eastlake Terrace, officials said, where Rogers Beach Park is located.
Nicole Gentle, an Evanston woman who was jogging along the lakefront Tuesday morning, said the young girl had been playing with friends near the lake when she went into the water.
Gentle said she heard children shouting "she's dead!" and saw a man jump into the water in an effort to find the girl. The soaking wet man emerged and said he couldn't find her, but rescue crews from the fire department were able to pull her from the water after a search.
Rescuers performed CPR on the child before taking her via ambulance to an area hospital, Gentle said.
"I went over there and prayed, I just got on my knees and prayed for this baby," she said. "I have teenagers, and I can imagine being a mother and being at work or whatever and your children are supposed to be at school and this is happening. I just noticed that it's not very safe over there, those poles and those wires are not sturdy enough to hold anybody. ... The rocks are jagged over there, and the current ... "
By late Tuesday afternoon, the beach had returned to a bustling park filled with dogs and children playing — save for a section of red police tape which still roped off a section of the pier.
Tucked under one of the rope's knots was a bouquet of red flowers, and tied around a pole at the same end was a small, turquoise zip-up fleece sweatshirt, dried under the beating sun.
Two girls who stopped by the scene said area children were known to jump off the pier in the summer, despite multiple warnings painted on the concrete walkway warning against going in the choppy water several feet above the water.
If one were to jump, he or she would have to clear a small platform below, as well as rocks and more concrete beneath the surface.
Though temperatures were a balmy 87 degrees Tuesday, Chicago beaches don't officially open until May 26 and no life guards are on staff until then. According to the National Weather Service, the lake was 57 degrees Tuesday.
Police tape and a small makeshift memorial at Rogers Beach. Below that another ledge. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]Another ledge sits beneath the upper part of the pier. The fence remained bent and unsecured Tuesday evening after rescuers entered the water there earlier in the day. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]Police and fire officials at Rogers Beach Park on the Far North Side after pulling a girl from the lake. [DNAinfo/Linze Rice]Rescue crews searching for the girls. [Chicago Fire Department]