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Wrongful Death Suit Filed After An Amputee Falls Into Lake

CHICAGO (STMW) -- A wrongful death lawsuit was filed Monday against the man pushing a wheelchair that fell into Lake Michigan outside a Downtown yacht club this month, resulting in the death of a 61-year-old amputee.

James Lacy negligently pushed a wheelchair containing Sarah Goenne, causing the woman to fall into Lake Michigan April 8 as she left the Columbia Yacht Club, according to a suit filed in Cook County Circuit Court.

Goenne, 61, of W. Chestnut Ave., was pronounced dead at 12:21 p.m. April 14 at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner's office. An autopsy determined she died of sepsis and bronchopneumonia from the near drowning. A secondary cause of death was spina bifida and right leg amputation from an auto accident.

Goenne was hospitalized after she and a 59-year-old man -- identified in the lawsuit as Lacy -- were rescued after falling into Lake Michigan at DuSable Harbor.

The two had attended a party at the Columbia Yacht Club in the 100 block of North Lake Shore Drive, police said. The man was wheeling Goenne down a ramp when the two accidentally fell into the water about 9:45 p.m. April 8, police said.

Fire Department personnel and the police Marine Unit responded and police pulled the woman from the water and the fire department rescued the man, police said.

Both were initially taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Fire Media Affairs spokesman Richard Rosado said. The man was listed in "stable" condition.

The suit, filed by Martha Bante, claims Lacy failed to keep a proper lookout and failed to control the wheelchair. Lacy could not be reached for comment.

The suit is seeking more than $50,000 from Lacy plus the cost of the suit.

© Sun-Times Media Wire Chicago Sun-Times 2011. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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