Park district, residents tangle over life rings after 19-year-old Ivy League student drowns at Prinz Beach

CHICAGO — Residents are blaming the park district after a kindhearted Ivy League student who wanted to become a lawyer drowned at Prinz Beach earlier this month.

Miguel Cisneros, 19, graduated from St. Ignatius in 2020, where he excelled in rowing. After spending several weeks this summer serving as a caddy in Nantucket, Cisneros came home a few days early before he was set to begin his second year at Columbia University in New York City.

On the morning of Aug. 22, firefighters were called to Pratt Pier, located in Rogers Park, on the report of a person in the water. After nearly an hour of searching, Cisneros’ body was pulled from the water.

“I wish I had more answers. He went in to the water to take a dip he never came out,” mother Maria Diaz said. “The lake took him.”

For years, residents in the area said the park district has taken no steps to address the dangerous conditions near the pier. So after Cisneros lost his life, Jim Ginderske spent several hundred dollars of his own money to buy a coast guard rated life ring. He put it up late Friday night and someone else added signs warning beachgoers.

But on Monday, they were all gone.

In a statement, the Chicago Park District said a safety device was removed at Prinz Beach because it was not “authorized.”

“The Chicago Park District removed the safety device installed at Prinz Beach because it was not authorized by the District however we are currently exploring supplemental safety equipment for sanctioned swim locations. The Chicago Park District urges the public to enjoy our beaches safely by entering the water only when lifeguards are on duty and respecting the flag system that notifies beach goers of current water conditions.”

His mother said the city must  do something so it doesn’t happen again. 49th Ward Ald. Maria Hadden said she met Tuesday with park district officials. Hadden said she believes they’re close to getting a life ring at the pier.

Chicago News