A Chicago police officer was honored Tuesday for rescuing a 13-year-old girl and two other people from dangerous rip currents in Lake Michigan earlier this summer.
“When I looked out into the water and I saw her out there, there was nobody at that time that could get to her,” said CPD officer Steven Ommundson.
Ommundson was recalling the night last July when he rescued a 13-year-old girl trapped by rip currents off the Loyola Park Beach. He's been named officer of the month by the Chicago Police memorial foundation.
“As we observe the anniversary of 9/11, we remember the selfless acts of courage of the first responders who ran into danger while most people ran away from it,” said Philip Cline of the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation.
It was 7:15 p.m. and park district lifeguards were off duty when Ommundson stripped to his underwear and went into the six to eight foot waves.
“It literally seemed like he was wearing a uniform of Velcro. It was one snap and before you knew it he was in the water, without a thought, jumped into the water to help someone else,” said Police Commander Robert Nieves.
Ommundson also rescued a police officer and a bystander who had gone in to help. But another 13-year-old, Darrihanna Torres, drowned in the lake before rescuers could reach her.
Officer Ommundson was no newcomer to lakefront rescues. Before joining the Chicago Police Department, he had worked for the Chicago Park District as a lifeguard.
“Those kinds of skill set kicked in. I just removed all my clothing to save weight and help me swim out there faster, and reach her,” said Ommundson.
This isn't the first recognition he's received for his rescue. Last month, he met Superintendent Eddie Johnson at a White Sox Game where he threw out the first pitch.