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Days after becoming state law, man rescued with life ring at North Avenue Beach

Man saved with life ring at North Avenue Beach
Man saved with life ring at North Avenue Beach 02:28

CHICAGO (CBS)-- A man was saved by a life ring after falling into the lake at North Avenue beach early Monday morning. 

Just before 6 a.m., the man fell into the lake and was able to get out, because of the life ring. The water Safety Task Force said thanks to the life ring, the man is expected to recover. 

CBS 2's Shardaa Gray spoke to a mother who advocated for the rings to be installed after her son drowned. She says the rings has helped her with grief. 

"It makes my grief a little bit easier, at least for a little bit. I know now that Miguel is a guardian angel," said Maria Diaz. 

Her son Miguel Cisneros, 19, drowned within feet of Pratt Pier in Rogers Park. People tried to help with nothing to throw. 

"If a life ring would have been there, he would be here right now," she said. 

The Water Safety Task Force said the man had fallen into Lake Michigan at North Ave Beach Monday morning. A person passing by threw him a life ring, which had been recently installed. 

"If you think about it, no rescue mission, no wasting money was involved. It's the way it was supposed to work," Diaz said.

Dave Benjamin with the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project says the recovery of a body could easily cost taxpayers half a million dollars. 

"A helicopter was about $16,000 per hour and a coast guard response boat was about $5,000 per hour. So that's $21,000 just for that coast guard response," he said. 

This rescue comes just days after Governor JB Pritzker made having devices along the lakefront an official state law.

The Lake Michigan Rescue Equipment Act requires all private and government-owned piers and drop-off points to be equipped with rescue gear such as easily accessible flotation devices -- or life rings. Before he signed the law, he made a call to Diaz.

"He was very touched by Miguel's story and that he wanted to honor Miguel by signing this law," she said. 

Last September, the Chicago Park District reluctantly began installing life rings at beaches with lifeguards and at Pratt Pier ahead of the 2022 beach season.

Starting next June, it will be a law to install them at every access point on the lake.  

That inspired the Lake Michigan Rescue Equipment Act, a bill introduced in the Illinois General Assembly just two months later.

More than 1,000 people have drowned in Lake Michigan since 2010.  

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