Nine people traveling in a boat on the Chicago River were rescued Wednesday after the vessel capsized, according to reports.
One of the passengers, a 7-year-old child, was in critical condition after being found underneath the small craft vessel, authorities said.
Witnesses quickly calling 911 about the overturned vessel likely saved lives, Chicago fire Deputy District Chief Carmelita Wiley-Earls told WLS-TV.
“Without the public’s input — and without the public’s initially 911 sounding of the alarm — then we would have a different outcome,” Wiley-Earls said.
“Without the public’s input … then we would have a different outcome.”
Emergency crews responded just after 7 p.m. local time to reports of an overturned boat “in distress,” Chicago fire officials said. All of those pulled from the water received medical attention, while the child was rushed to a hospital, Chicago’s FOX 32 reported.
“The helicopter divers that went into the water were able to retrieve the one child that was underneath the capsized boat,” Chicago fire Chief Patrick Maloney told WLS-TV. “It was a small craft, kind of pretty packed up as far as water safety.”
Five other people were taken to the University of Illinois Hospital in good-to-fair condition, while three declined medical care, according to FOX 32.
The Chicago Fire Department had tweeted earlier of a “boat in distress,” saying the vessel flipped and sent people into the water about a mile south of the city’s famed Loop downtown area.
After the boat overturned, it reportedly drifted three blocks before first responders were able to rescue all of the occupants. Exactly what caused the boat to capsize was not immediately known.
“If you look down the river, the accessibility of where we actually found the victim versus where we retrieved everyone else. We’re talking almost three blocks down river,” Wiley-Earls told WLS.
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