Swimmer dies after going underwater for 40 minutes in Lake Michigan at Promontory Point

Divers search for a missing swimmer in Lake Michigan on July 17, 2020. (Chicago Fire Department)

A swimmer died after being underwater for more than a half hour Thursday afternoon in Lake Michigan, according to the Chicago Fire Department.

The man was out with about four friends at Promontory Point when “he said he wanted to jump in the lake for a quick swim,” according to CFD spokesman Larry Langford.

“He struggled and then went under,” according to Langford, who said the rough water was described to him as a “washing machine.”

The fire department sent four divers and a helicopter after it was called at 1:03 p.m. to the 5500 block of South Lake Shore Drive, Langford said. They found him at 1:30 p.m. about 10 feet off the rocks.

The man, who was already in cardiac arrest, was taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center where he was pronounced dead a half hour later, he said.

Langford speculated that waves may have pushed the man into the rocks and knocked him unconscious.

“Please keep in mind Lake Michigan is turbulent with severe undertow,” the fire department said in on Twitter. “Beaches are closed and rock walls are especially dangerous to swim near.”

The man was identified as Sai Charan Sundar Somarouthu, 26, of Lake Meadows on the South Side, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. His death was ruled an accidental drowning.

So far in 2020, at least 17 other people have drowned in Lake Michigan, according to the Great Lake Surf Project, which tracks drownings.