'Playpen' boater still missing after falling into Lake Michigan

Authorities are searching Lake Michigan for a missing boater, who reportedly fell off a boat near the Jardine Water Filtration Plant in the area known as "The Playpen."

Chicago police and fire marine units have responded to multiple water emergencies in recent weeks.

With the Air and Water Show coming up, more boat traffic is expected and there’s an appeal for safety on Lake Michigan.

Overnight, fire personnel recovered the body of a male, after someone reported seeing a body in the water at Montrose Harbor. It’s not known how the person ended up in the water. He has not yet been identified.


A 43-year-old man fell into Diversey Harbor before sunrise Wednesday. Friends reported Luis Alberto Davila Vera went under and never surfaced. Fire personnel recovered his body. 

Lake Michigan and the Chicago River have more boat traffic than ever. Experienced sailors said when boaters combine inexperience with alcohol and not operating safely, trouble happens.

Scott Baker, who runs Salty Dog Yacht Services at Montrose Harbor, said he has seen some dangerous behavior involving new boat owners. 

"I call them credit card captains. You pull out a credit card, they give you a quick little dissertation on how the boat operates and you're a captain," Baker said

Baker said he hopes boaters will be cautious, especially during Air and Water Show weekend.

"Hopefully what’s taken place in the last two weeks is going to wake people up and they will be more cognizant and aware and more careful," Baker said.

Boaters said what’s happening on the lake is similar to what drivers have seen on the road, operators not following the rules and taking risks that can harm themselves and others.