17-Dec-10 Divers jumping from a helicopter hovering over the frigid Chicago River Friday afternoon rescued an elderly man who had fallen in near the Dearborn Street Bridge.
A Chicago Fire Department official on the scene said they were alerted to a person in the river at about 2:47 p.m. They arrived about three minutes later with a helicopter that happened to be flying when the call came in and not far away.
Witnesses say the helicopter hovered about ten feet above the river. CFD spokesperson Kevin MacGregor says when divers arrived, the man was still on the surface of the water. They got him out immediately to the ambulance which was right at the bridge and they worked on him.
Fire officials do not know how the unidentified man ended up in the river or how long he was in the water. He was pulled to the south shore, carried to Lower Wacker Drive, and taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in critical condition. MacGregor says the man was not responsive.
If hes got any chance of survival at all, its because of the fact that there was such an immediate response there. And the helicopter happened to have been up in the air and not too far away and they had divers ready to go. When they arrived at the scene they spotted him, they jumped from the helicopter. So it was an immediate response.
It was about 23 degrees in downtown Chicago on Friday afternoon. The rescue took about eight minutes.
(Left) CFD divers climb out of the Chicago River Friday after rescuing a man spotted in the river at about 2:47 p.m.
(Above) A rescue helicopter hovers over the Chicago River. Photo by Thomas Grether. (Click on images to view larger versions.)