James Hammond, died Monday afternoon trying to save his nephew who had fallen off a small boat off the 63rd Street Beach.
“My brother is courageous,” expressed bereft brother Michael Hammond, “He was a hero, he died being a hero.”
Out For A Ride
According to the head of Marine and Dive operations, Deputy District Fire Chief Ron Dorneker, the 31-year-old, had just bought the boat and took three of his younger relatives including his nephew out to the lake for a ride.
At around 12:45pm the nephew had fallen in and James Hammond jumped in after him. Hammond wasn’t wearing a lifejacket and when the lifeguards came in the aid of the nephew, who had a lifejacket on, they realized that the uncle has disappeared under the surface.
Dorneker said, “Lifeguards on the beach heard the commotion and were able to quickly row out in a lifeguard rowboat and assist the 11-year-old that was in the water.”
Divers found Hammond and took him to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. They boy now in good condition was taken to Comer’s Children’s Hospital.
Michael Hammond learned of the ordeal when his young daughter who was also on the boat, called her father to tell him her uncle disappeared into the lake.
He was “always helping others,” said the grieving brother. According to the medical examiner, the deceased lived at 4400 block of North Drake Avenue.
As beachgoers were playing volleyball and grilling, celebrating and enjoying their fourth of July day off, the Chicago police closed off sections of the beach close to the scene of the incident. Some of the people gathered together and watched as the police and firefighters did what they can.
Some of the people left early as the brave uncle was being pulled out of the water.
“Guess we’ll head out.” said a mother to her pouting son.