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Why Do Lifeguards Leave Chicago Beaches Hours Before Dark?

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Beaches in Evanston, Wilmette, and Glencoe have lifeguards on duty later than Chicago beaches. Chicago officials say the issue comes down to financial reasons.

CBS 2's Audrina Bigos reports Halle Quezada was on Loyola Beach July 6th, the day 13-year-old Darianne Torres and her friends were swept away by waves.

Darihanne went under around 7:30 p.m. Lifeguards left 30 minutes before that, only working 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Alderman Joe Moore (49th Ward) said, "From my understanding, it's a matter of finances."

In 2009, the city of Chicago cut lifeguard hours because of budget cuts. The hours for lifeguards on Chicago beaches used to be 10 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Alderman Joe Moore says it would cost the city just shy of $1 million to restore those hours.

"It's morally repugnant that we even have to make a fiscal argument for the case of saving lives," Quezada said. "Money has to come from somewhere. It either has to come at the expense of other programs or it has to come at the expense of the taxpayers. Higher fees or taxes."

Quezada and another Chicago mom have 2,500 signatures on a petition to the Mayor, calling for extended lifeguard hours, more accessible flotation devices, and more education for students.

Alderman Moore says he is assembling a task force to weigh options.

A mayoral spokesperson told CBS 2 the park district is already taking action, adding more warning signs and installing new flag poles. Red flags will fly at all city beaches once lifeguards leave for the day, signaling no swimming allowed.

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