‘Looking back at ya’: As storm was bearing in, Waukegan officials save woman’s life


WAUKEGAN, Ill. — Waukegan police and fire crews teamed up to make a remarkable water rescue last week. They saved a women’s life who had been missing for more than 24 hours.

On Aug. 3, crews patrolling near the pier in the Waukegan Harbor were already in recovery mode. Earlier, the family of a missing 57-year-old woman told authorities they feared she was having a mental health crisis and jumped in the water.

The woman had already been missing more than 24 hours and her phone last pinged near the harbor.

“Didn’t really expect to find a whole lot I walked around and didn’t see anything that would reason me to believe that she was still down here,” officer Leonard Walker said. “I had to make a decision I didn’t know what to do at that time and that’s when I reached out to the fire department.”

The Waukegan Fire Department launched a rescue boat and used sonar to search the water,

They scanned the harbor for three hours before an incoming storm forced them to call it off.

“As we were having that conversation with the family, the boat made one last pass and must have got that perfect line of sight underneath the pier,” officer Leonard Walker said.

Crews glanced under the pier and spotted a red shirt. The woman was alive, but not responsive with her body temperature at 87 degrees.

She was treated for hypothermia, but made a remarkable recovery.

“You’re not thinking you’re gonna see someone that’s looking back at ya and that’s exactly what happened,” said paramedic Michael Gallagher.

Police said the family overwhelmed with emotion and grateful.

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