UPDATED: 14-Year-Old Boy Drowns Near Gillson Park

Evanston boy dies in Lake Michigan while swimming in an unpatrolled area

This article has been updated as of 10:36 a.m. on Aug. 28.

An unidentified 14-year-old Evanston boy drowned Saturday afternoon near in Lake Michigan, according to Wilmette Police Chief Brian King.

The teen "had been swimming off of the pier with several friends when a wave pulled him under and he did not resurface," according to a statement released late Saturday. Almost two hours after being called to the scene, officials found the boy "200 yards south of where he was last seen" and transported him to an Evanston Hospital. The teen was soon pronounced dead. His identity is being withheld and will be released after extended family have been notified, according to police.

According to King, the boy and his friends were swimming in a no-swim part of the lake. The area is owned by the Wilmette Park District, who previously told Patch that while it isn't guarded, there are several signs that indicate swimming restrictions.


The Wilmette Police and Fire Department were joined by officials from several neighboring communities as well as the in the search for the boy near the South Beach area of Gillson Park. Whether he was swimming alone or with a companion was not immediately clear.

According to the Fire Department report, strong northeast winds were in the area in addition to a heavy surf. A Rip Current warning had been issued by the National Weather Service earlier in the afternoon. Just a few days ago, and rough conditions in the lake.

This was the second incident this month to occur at Gillson Park as the Chicago Tribune reported that an .

Stay tuned to Patch for more on the story.

Steve Fuchs August 29, 2011 at 02:53 AM
Please don't take my comment out of context. I'll repeat it and stand by it again. "Let's be clear about something... Lake Michigan is not dangerous, IF you are prepared to handle the conditions." And again, not looking to make this a major nit-pick session or somehow be framed as an elitist. I have a son and daughter near Tristan's age. I'd rather bring a full awareness to this community and prevent hysteria among the uneducated or inexperienced. I talked to at least 20 people about this subject today around our community and many, if not most, are "locals." Naivete about the lake was abound. I'm not advocating surf lessons. I'm advocating a water safety class that teaches participants how to recognize the danger of the surf environment; understand rip currents (i.e. how, where, and why rip currents occur); how to survive rips; to know the “Signs of Drowning”; and how to use a surfboard or other flotation device to rescue a person in distress or in a rip current. More specifically, I think junior high and high school students would GREATLY benefit from this, including our community at large that frequent beaches.
victoria smith August 29, 2011 at 12:40 PM
Steve, you make allot of good points,but I think your class would be more beificial if it was intergrated into a class, such as health in our schools. Not every child or parent would attend an outside class such as yours. Lake Michigan is very unpredictable especially our under currents. I am sure that there are only a handful of you that surf Michigan in our area and who knows maybe it will catch on and become more popular, but I can't think that our Lake is really the ideal place to surf. The question at hand is to educate our community about Lake Michigan and all of it's conditons and how to handle them for swimmers and boaters. I think that the Evanston Fire department could give a very good insite to all of this. Non the less, this was a terrible incident and maybe could have been avoided had Tristan known what to do under his situation, but then again kids will be kids and they all think that "it can't happen to me".
Fdphotounit August 29, 2011 at 11:42 PM
Hello All, I Have been a Fire Department Photo Unit for Almost 30 Years. I Was Here that Day it Was Very Sad Day for All The Divers From The Fire Departments. They all Worked very Hard To Find Tristan that Day. Here is something You All Don't Know An Evanston Fire Fighter Is Going To Be Off For the Next 3 months Because He Was Out Trying His Best in Those High waves To Try And Find Tristan When The Wave Runner Hit A High Wave And His Face Slammed Into The Board He was Riding On Breaking His Nose And also His Face Bone And Several Cuts. I Have Been On Several Dive Call And Really Don't Want to go On Anymore. Let me know If There Is Something Someone wants To Do To get the Word Out About water safety I Got Plenty of Pictures To get The Point Out There There are To Many Young People Dying In Our Lakes . Thanks For Your Time on This It looks like There Are People that Care out There.
George August 30, 2011 at 01:55 AM
Here's a logical solution. The beach is closing this weekend which means there will be no staff in the park. The water is still in the mid 70's which is going to lead to many more "unsupervised" swimmers / jumpers around the pier. The dog beach is full of residents who have a great view of the pier. Let's post a sign asking the dog beach patrons (or anyone else around) to call the police if they witness kids jumping off of the pier? Kind of makes sense in my mind. There could also be a fine issued to the jumpers which would more than likely have to be paid by their parents. I think you see where I am going here. Parents who have to pay $75 for their kids jumping off of the pier are going to think twice the next time their kids say they are "going to the beach" to hang out.
Andrea Hart August 30, 2011 at 04:00 PM
Thanks for the comment. I am working on a follow up on water safety. Could you share your photos with me at? Would you also be available for an interview? Please email me at andrea.hart@patch.com.


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