Vigil held for teen who drowned at North Ave Beach - FOX 32 News Chicago

Vigil held for teen who drowned at North Ave Beach

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

A 14-year-old boy drowned at North Avenue Beach. Chicago paramedics said they don't know how long the teen was under water before his friends pulled him out Tuesday.

George Sosa, 14, of the 3500 block of West 72nd Street, died late Tuesday night according to fire officials and the Cook County Medical Examiner's office.

He and his friends were just visiting the beach and hanging out, when they lost track of the boy. Two teenage boys told a Chicago Park District lifeguard that they could not find him, and that they had last seen him in the lake, said Park District spokeswoman Jessica Maxey-Faulkner.

Witnesses said they heard the lifeguards page the boy by name over the loudspeaker, but when he didn't check in, the lifeguards went into emergency mode.

"On the loudspeaker the lady said everyone out of the water immediately, everyone out of the water, so we were like what's going on and we looked over to the right and there was a lot of commotion by the shore," witness Maggie Horvath said.

As the lifeguard rowed over to the south end of the beach where the teen was apparently last seen, his friends began frantically searching under the water.

"I looked over there was four boys left out on the south end of the beach in the water and they were all scrambling, going under, trying to see who was there," witness Sarah Kane said. "They were trying to get their friend who was under the water."

She said the friends found the teen fairly quickly, out by the pylons, and carried him to shore as beach goers watched with an uneasy feeling.

"No one knows how long he was under for, so, it's just really unfortunate," Kane said.

Fire Media Director Larry Langford said the boy was unresponsive when a Chicago Park District lifeguard pulled him from the water, after responding to what Fire Media Affairs called a "near drowning incident" just after 5 p.m. Tuesday.

"About six guys, officers, started carrying him to the ambulance, and every 10 seconds kept dropping him and pumping his chest," witness Derek Zugic said.

Police and paramedics performed CPR on the boy and did get a response from him before taking him to Lurie Children's Hospital in extremely critical condition. He could not survive his injuries.

Police and the Chicago Park District are conducting an investigation into the incident, Maxey-Faulkner said.

Heartbroken, family and friends held a vigil and surrounded a makeshift memorial steps away from 14 year-old George's home. George Sosa Sr. hasn't left his house since his son was pronounced dead.

Sosa's aunt, Debra Richardson says it's the family's third loss of life in recent years, including Sosa's two older brothers.

"We loss his mother a few years back and it's just been - his dad is the greatest. His dad has been through everything and right now is kind of taking it a little hard," said Richardson.

Jose Vasquez was there when George was rescued from Lake Michigan.

Vasquez says he noticed Sosa did not surface from the water after ten seconds passed and he went to tell the lifeguard who instructed him to tell a supervisor at the beach.

"We're trying to figure out what went wrong. We're trying to figure it all out and put it all together and so far we're just praying and doing what we can," said Richardson.

The Tarkington School of Excellence 8th grader who loved soccer and basketball was known for his smile and ability to brighten the lives of those around him, including complete strangers.

"They remember him as always laughing and telling a joke... his smile would melt your heart," said Margaret Kania, a teacher at Tarkington School of Excellence.

"It's just sad what happened - I can't believe it just happened all of the sudden like this," said Richardson.

Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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