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4/17/06 Tribune--Man Drowns

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4/17/06: Chicago Man Drowns -- Could Meigs Field Have Saved Him?


Earlier this week a tragedy occurred on Chicago's north lakefront.  Reported facts are sketchy, but it seems possible, even likely, that if the Chicago Fire Department helicopter rescue squad were still based at Meigs Field that Mr. Looey could still be alive today. 

Since Meigs' midnight demolition, the rescue squad has been located 9 miles and several critical travel minutes farther south, on the Illinois/Indiana border at the lakefront.

In the time-critical world of search and rescue, mere minutes often translate into lives saved or lost.

And the Mayor's reason Meigs was closed was for "public safety"???  How many lives will it cost before reason prevails?

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Chicago Tribune story:

Man dies trying to rescue dog

Chicagoan drowns in Lake Michigan

By Tonya Maxwell and Andrew L. Wang
Tribune staff reporters
Published April 17, 2006

After Easter breakfast with his wife, Richard Looey headed out for fresh air with two of his boxers, Ringo and Daisy.

Looey told his wife he planned to take a long walk along the lakefront and slipped a camera into his pocket. He liked to snap pictures of the dogs on special days.

About two hours later, police arrived at the couple's Northwest Side home and told his wife, Maria, that her husband of 25 years was dead.

He tried to rescue a dog that had either fallen or jumped into the lake, authorities said.

About 9:20 a.m., rescuers responded to a call about a man shouting for help from the lake, just offshore in the 4300 block of North Lake Shore Drive, Officer Kristina Schuler said.

When a Fire Department helicopter arrived minutes later, the man was underwater and nowhere to be seen, said Larry Langford, a spokesman for the department.

Rescue divers were sent into the lake and brought the man to land about two minutes later. He was taken to Weiss Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 10:15 a.m.

A spokesman for the Cook County medical examiner identified him as Baba Looey, 57.

The odd-sounding name was a nod to his sense of humor, Maria Looey said. Her husband had legally changed it because his given name, Richard Bogulewski, left so many tongue-tied, she said.

He owned a tool and die business, could pilot a plane and was curious about the world, she said.

"He was very creative. He could make everything from anything," she said. "And he loved his animals."

The couple didn't have children, and they cherished the dogs, she said.

Twice in the past several years, the Looeys' dogs have had litters of puppies. One was adopted by Jennifer Crane of Wilmette, who quickly saw their love for the animals.

"There's no question in my mind that he would have had no other thought than to go in after dogs," she said,1,231026.story

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