Off-duty firefighter rescues baby from Lake Michigan - FOX 32 News Chicago

Off-duty firefighter rescues baby from Lake Michigan

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

An off duty Chicago firefighter, who was celebrating his wife's 51st birthday with a ride on his boat, saved a baby who fell into Lake Michigan Saturday afternoon on the South Side.

A lady with a baby strapped in a stroller was standing at the 31st Street Harbor near where Lt. Steve O'Malley, an off duty firefighter, was working on his boat about 2 p.m., Fire Media Affairs spokeswoman Meg Ahlheim said.

As O'Malley returned from his car to retrieve some tools, he heard the woman screaming that her baby was in the water, Ahlheim said.

O'Malley said he was also on his cell phone speaking with a friend, who is a Chicago Police officer, about a charity boxing event where the two departments compete against each other.

"I heard her screaming, ‘My baby, my baby!" O'Malley said.

O'Malley said he dropped the cell phone and dived into the water right behind the baby's father. He saw the stroller positioned sideways in the water and grabbed the yellow t-shirt of the infant he believed to be about one years old. The father grabbed the stroller while O'Malley held onto the baby's t-shirt and both men were able to keep the stroller above water while swimming to a nearby ladder leading out of the water.

"No way [the father] could have done it by himself," O'Malley said.

The baby began coughing when the infant was lifted out of the water, O'Malley said.

The baby was also crying profusely but was not harmed, Fire Media Affairs spokesman Richard Rosado said. The baby was not hospitalized and did not receive treatment.

"O'Malley is a great guy," Ahleim said of the 33-year veteran firefighter. "He exemplifies everything that we [the fire department] is all about."

It is believed that a gust of wind caused the stroller to roll into the water, said Rosado, adding that it happened very quickly.

The parents thanked the firefighter for saving the baby's life, Rosado said. O'Malley was also invited to the barbecue that the parents were attending at the harbor.

More than a dozen people at the barbecue also thanked him for his efforts, O'Malley said.

A good Samaritan returned O'Malley's phone that he dropped after the rescue, O'Malley said.

O'Malley returned to his boat with his clothes dripping wet where his wife, Cindy was waiting and told her, "You're never going to believe this one."

After his wife took a photo of him, the two boarded their boat to enjoy the city's annual Venetian night, O'Malley said.

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