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After Son Drowns Off Pratt Pier In Rogers Park, Mother To Meet With Park District To Push For Life Rings On Chicago Lakefront

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A grieving mother will meet with Chicago Park District officials on Friday about a life-saving issue that is close to her heart.

Maria Diaz wants life rings up at the lakefront. Her neighbor even put some life rings up in Rogers Park – but said the Chicago Park District took them down, twice.

Diaz wants them because her 19-year-old son, Miguel Cisneros, drowned last month at Pratt Pier.

Lifeguards were not on duty, and no one who saw him struggling had a flotation device.

"I know the Park District has said that this is like inviting people to swim, but obviously, their policy's not working, because Miguel is not the first one to drown," Diaz said.

The mother points to nine other deaths in the last year that she said may have been preventable with life rings.

The Park District said the rings they took down were not authorized safety devices, but they are willing to reevaluate their position on keeping some up.

The push for life rings along the Chicago shoreline has been in progress for some time. Halle Quezada of the Chicago Alliance for Waterfront Safety told CBS 2's Marissa Parra in May that she was first motivated to push for a safer shoreline by another incident in Rogers Park three years ago.

On July 6, 2018, five swimmers needed rescuing in Rogers Park. They tried to help a 13-year-old girl, but she couldn't be saved.

Quezada's rage became fuel. She has been fighting to make Chicago's lakefront safer ever since – and now, Cisneros' death has added further motivation for her too.

Ald, Maria Hadden (49th) likewise called for life rings at Pratt Pier following Cisneros' drowning.

In a Facebook Live stream following the drowning, Hadden said: "And Chicago Park District, this is another reason why it is long past time for us to have life rings at our beaches. We have been asking for life rings at our lakeside parks for far too long. There should have been life rings along that pier. There were people there that could have tossed a life ring to this person. Not saying, you know, not that it would have prevented everything, but we need more safety devices and more safety information and signage at our beaches."

Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project Executive Director Dave Benjamin added last month in a news release: "Life rings are likely the difference between life and death for this drowning incident. Flotation is the key ingredient for surviving a drowning incident – the missing ingredient on the Chicago lakefront."

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