RACINE — The Racine County Sheriff's Office (RCSO) was dispatched to North Beach on Sunday just after 3 p.m. after an individual was unaccounted for after going into Lake Michigan.
According to the RCSO, two male children were in the water just north of the North Pier when they began to show signs of distress. An adult male relative entered the water to save the children and assisted in their rescue, but he did not emerge from the water.
Already being in that area with a boat, the RCSO immediately began searching for the man. At approximately 4:01 p.m., the adult male was rescued from the water and emergency lifesaving efforts were administered. The male was transported to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
On Monday, the office identified the victim as Thomas J. Walker, 40 years old. His family told the sheriff's office, “He was a kind soul and an amazing uncle to his niece and nephews. And how we lost him is a testament to how great an uncle and all-around guy he was. [We] never met a person who didn't like him. He is missed greatly.”
The Sheriff’s Office has been informed that all the involved parties are from the State of Missouri. The victim is described as a 40-year-old white male, whose name is being withheld until notification can be made to his entire family.
The Sheriff’s Office was aware that the US National Weather Service had issued a warning of hazardous water conditions along Lake Michigan, including the beaches of Racine County, from the early morning hours of today’s date through 7:00 p.m. The warning included the possibility of life-threatening waves up to five feet in height and dangerous currents.
“The Sheriff’s Office commends the heroic actions of the man who assisted in saving the lives of these two young children," Sheriff Schmaling said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with him, his family and his loved ones. We also encourage people to take the time to investigate current lake conditions before entering Lake Michigan and take all necessary precautions. This, like the other unfortunate drownings this summer, are tragic, incredibly sad and preventable.”