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Tragic Drowning Death Results in Lawsuit Against Chicago

— September 22, 2021

The Chicago Park District was recently hit with a lawsuit over the drowning death of Miguel Cisneros, 19.

Maria Diaz recently decided to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the Chicago Park District after her son, Miguel Cisneros, 19, drowned on August 22 “after jumping off a Rogers Park pier for a swim.” Prior to the tragic accident, Cisneros was preparing to begin his sophomore year at Columbia University this fall after graduating from St. Ignatius College Prep. 

Image of a person drowning
Person Drowning; image courtesy of
TheDigitalArtist via Pixabay,

In her lawsuit, Diaz claims that as her son was drowning “at Pratt Pier in Rogers Park, bystanders searched for flotation devices to no avail.” Before the fatal incident, “the Park District had agreed to place 140 water rescue stations along Chicago’s lakefront — including a station at or near the beach or pier at Tobey Prinz Beach Park,” according to the suit.

On top of that, the complaint further argues:

“The Park District was aware of a previous drowning in the area of the pier, that it had failed to repaint safety markings at the pier and that a sign posted at or near the beach and pier instructed swimmers to call for someone to throw a life ring or anything that floats to save an individual that may be having difficulty swimming and/or drowning.”

Shortly after Cisneros died, there was a standoff “between Rogers Park residents and the Chicago Park District.” During that standoff, residents “placed their own, unsanctioned life rings at the pier…Each time, the Park District removed the life rings.” Many Rogers Park residents and water safety advocates spent years demanding life rings and improved water safety measures in the neighborhood.

Earlier this month, the Park District finally “placed two sanctioned life rings at Prinz Beach Park, including one at Pratt Pier.” However, the move was a “change of course by the agency, which had previously announced a pilot program to place life rings in certain areas across Chicago’s lakefront — but only in areas already deemed safe to swim, unlike the pier where Cisneros died.

When commenting on the matter, Park District spokesperson Michele Lemons issued an email saying “both sanctioned and unsanctioned swim locations would be considered for part of the pilot program.” However, residents and advocates have pushed back, Diaz included. They said the “single life ring at Pratt Pier wasn’t enough.” Diaz added, “This is more than Miguel.” When asked what she would like the Park District to do going forward, Diaz said she “wants the Park District to install life rings throughout the entire lakefront.”


Mother of teen who drowned at Rogers Park pier files wrongful-death lawsuit against Chicago Park District

Mother suing Chicago Park District after son’s drowning in Lake Michigan off Pratt Pier

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