Lost in My Sadness


Mother suing Chicago Park District after son's drowning in Lake Michigan off Pratt Pier

Miguel Cisneros would have been a couple of weeks into his sophomore year at Columbia University, where he planned to study law. But his mother, Maria Diaz, said she now lives with the reality that she will never see him again.

"First I thought, I'll pretend he took off for New York and he's doing what he wants," Diaz said. "Then the night hits and I don't get that phone call saying, 'hey, mama bear, how're you doing?' And it breaks me down."

Cisneros drowned in August after jumping off Pratt Pier to go for a swim. After he died, Rogers Park residents took it upon themselves to place life rings - at least four - at the popular pier where swimming is prohibited. Each one was removed by the Chicago Park District.

"When weighing the option between the lives of others or their liability, the park district chose to cover their own butts and do nothing," said attorney Jeff Kroll.

Kroll is the attorney for Maria Diaz, who is filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the park district. She said her son's death could have been prevented if there was a life ring at the pier, and is on a crusade to have life rings installed along the city's entire waterfront.

"I feel I'm carrying on his legacy of helping other families not to go through this tragedy that we're facing right now," Diaz said.

Just last week, the park district reversed course and installed a life ring at the pier and announced plans to install life rings at all staffed beaches.

Diaz's attorney said the action is too little, too late, and hopes the lawsuit will spur more change.

"This was a recipe for disaster," Kroll said. "They buried their head. They wanted nothing to do with this and it took yet another drowning death for them to do something."


I'm Crying

The Grieving Mother

I Can Not Imagine - the Deep Pain within Her

So Sad - So Unnecessary - So Tragically Wrong!

Early - at the Memorial - and PUSH - for a Ring - Safety Attempted at Last!

Lost in My Sadness

Tears wetting me Deeply

7:15-7:20 - this morning

I was heading out on the

Pratt Street Pier

The waves were Strong

Voices - range Out

I hoped against hope!

People were seeking Help

I felt helpless

I called the Coast Guard

7:12 - another had called 911

I didn't hear his voice

He had gone down

just before my arrival

  (courtesy of a relative who made contact with me)


After Cisneros died, Rogers Park residents had taken it upon themselves to place life rings — at least four — on the pier. Each time, the Park District removed the rings. Cisneros’ mother, Maria Diaz, had called for life rings to be placed at the pier and across the lakefront.

A life ring was installed by the Chicago Park District at the end of the pier at Loyola Beach near Tobey Prinz Beach, Sept. 13, 2021, in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago.
A life ring was installed by the Chicago Park District at the end of the pier at Loyola Beach near Tobey Prinz Beach, Sept. 13, 2021, in the Rogers Park neighborhood of Chicago. (Erin Hooley / Chicago Tribune)

The decision to place a life ring at Pratt Pier is a reversal from a Park District announcement last Wednesday. At the Park District’s board meeting that day, general counsel Timothy King announced a pilot program to install life rings at some locations along Chicago’s lakefront but said the program would only apply to areas already deemed “safe to swim” — unlike the pier where Cisneros died.

King also said Wednesday that the agency was in the process of deciding to restrict public access to some higher-risk areas along the lakefront.

But on Monday, Lemons wrote in an email to the Tribune that “sanctioned and unsanctioned locations” would be considered as part of the agency’s life ring pilot program. She did not comment specifically on the decision to place a life ring at Pratt Pier.

“Right now, that lone ring on Pratt Pier does not make me happy,” Diaz said Monday.

Diaz said she was still calling for life rings to be installed throughout the city’s entire lakefront, and she hoped the Park District would install life rings in other unsanctioned swimming areas. “This is more than Miguel,” she added.

Louise LeBourgeois, a longtime Rogers Park resident and one of the neighbors who had placed a life ring at the pier, echoed Diaz’s concern.

“We’re waiting to see what else the Park District is going to do,” LeBourgeois said. “Yes, it’s good that there’s a life ring on Pratt Pier, but it’s just a drop in the bucket of what the citizens of the city of Chicago deserve and need.”


CHICAGO (CBS) — A man is dead after drowning in Lake Michigan offshore from Rogers Park early Sunday.

Divers, police Marine Unit members, and a helicopter, were called around 7:30 a.m. to Tobey Prinz Beach Park, on the lake at the mouth of Pratt Boulevard, after a man in his 30s went underwater a few blocks north on the lake at Greenleaf Avenue and never resurfaced.

First responders did not locate the body until responding to a second distress call a few hours later.


He was set to travel to Columbia University next week. He was going to major in Economics and minor in political science. He has hopes of attending law school afterwards. He attended high school at St. Ignatius College Prep where he learned to love rowing. He was a dedicated member of the rowing team there. 

Miguel was the boy who made it despite the odds. He was a great success story of hard work and a love for education.  

He was 19. Super tall kid (i think 6'3) He could talk to anyone. He was extremely personable. He was also very goal oriented. He had wanted to go to an Ivy League since elementary school. 

He grew up and lived in the south side of Chicago. He had hopes of making it out of the neighborhood and into New York City. He was overjoyed when he was accepted. He spent every summer in high school as a caddy in Nantucket in a program that allowed him a college scholarship.

Chicago (WLS)-Pushes are underway to add throwable rifling or preservers along Chicago’s lakeside. Multiple water rescues and drowning on Lake Michigan On the weekend.

The waters at Rogers Park were calm Wednesday afternoon, but it was a completely different story when the red and yellow flags on Sunday warned of the stormy waters of the lake.

The body of water killed 19-year-old Miguel Cisneros. Miguel Cisneros recovered a few hours after diving into the water. Advocates of water safety said he believed that if witnesses had access to life-saving equipment, he might have survived.

“They saw him struggling. They saw him die. They had nothing to throw him floating that would save his life,” said the Great Lakes Surf Rescue. Dave Benjamin of the project said.


Columbia University, NY, NY

Robert Bernot ’55 and Morris Lamer Scholarship Fund in Honor of Samara Bernot Meshel ’92


Miguel Cisneros CC’24


Boys' Varsity Double of SO Ethan Larson and JR David Keith won silver medals for 2nd place out of 15 boats. Boys Varsity 4 boat of JR Paul Nowalczyk, JR Miguel Cisneros, JR Kyle Luburic, JR Joe Shea and SR Coxswain Will Lopez won silver medals for 2nd place out of 10 boats.

A Big Push - Last Evening - to Save (Future) Lives

More Tears!

My Beach - is not the Same

It May never be the Same Again

I love it so much - 


Right Now - I only feel the pain

I talked with those who were there

He wore shorts (not a swimming suit)

While it was Foolish (the riptides carried him out)

Doing What he Did

It doesn't take away the Loss!

He May Have Parents

Surely there were Some Loved Ones


A Grieving Father - with his Two Remaining Sons

Perhaps a Month Ago

I foolishly - went out on our new inflatable boat

I suddenly realized

I was drifting further and further out

in the Lake

I had a life vest

and my Cell Phone

After calling B

Who told me to Abandon the Boat

I moved into the Water

Losing One Oar

I began kicking my Way 

to the Beach

In the Water

It was Slow - but not Problematic

C - was sent on her paddle Board

She towed me In - 

Making things Much easier

I have Powerful Legs

Despite My Years

I would have Made it in Safely

- the Coast Guard had been

called on Me

I told the Police

When able to walk in the Water

That I was Okay

I was Lucky!- 

In My Foolishness!


So Tall - Like his Big Brother

Life Can be Fleeting

I am a Lucky One!

My Lovely Beach

Will Always Carry These Memories!

We gathered last evening, September 7, 2021 - grieving the needless loss of a wonderful young man and trying our best to prevent future similar tragedies.   The Chicago Park District - has shown callous disregard for all of us, falsely claiming that life saving rings - which we can throw to potential victims will encourage people to disregard the warnings, and go into Lake Michigan risking their lives.   They ignore the evidence - and actions of similar locations in Michigan, Indiana (including Gary), Wisconsin (including Kenosha) and other places within Illinois.

The family was among us, many wearing memorial tee-shirts.   Many families of classmates at St. Ignatius Prep - who were Miguel's friends, were present, along with many members of the media.

Most sad - was the voice of Miguel's mother  - whose grief - I can not begin to imagine!

It was most meaningful - I'm glad that I was there - a lot of tears!

I don't want to Escape

My Pain - Those Feelings

I want to Experience My Heart

It is Difficult in This Moment

It was Hard this Morning - when I was Out

One Kind Women - with her Dog

Asked Me

If I was okay!

Another Kind Person said:

I am so sorry for what you witnessed. That is heavy. How are you?

Thank you again to our first responders from the Chicago Fire and Police Departments for your rescue and recovery efforts this morning.
One person drowned this morning after jumping into the lake off of the pier at Pratt and two more individuals in the water at the same location needed rescuing around 10am.
PLEASE pay attention to marine weather reports before going for a swim or taking kayaks or other devices into the lake. US National Weather Service Chicago Illinois has marine conditions reports.
Pay attention to signage and know your water safety tips. If you’re in distress, FLIP, FLOAT and FOLLOW! Don’t go out alone and heed the life guards warnings. We don’t need any more lives lost.

A woman - 

later clarified as Our Alderperson - posted what is above!

My Tears Return!

I am Very Blessed (not religiously) - to have the Wonderful Life That I Have!

My Sadness - will be with me...



After A 19-Year-Old Drowned Near Rogers Park Beach, A Neighbor Installed A Life Ring. The Park District Removed It

Rogers Park neighbors have been calling on the Park District to install life rings at beaches for years to no avail. "Here we are, another summer and more drowning victims."

The life ring installed at Tobey Prinz Beach was U.S. Coast Guard rated, neighbor Jim Ginderske said.

  • ROGERS PARK — After fighting for years to get the city to install life-saving flotation devices along the Rogers Park lakefront, neighbors took matters into their own hands over the weekend and installed a life ring and caution signs at Tobey Prinz Beach Park.

But by Monday, the life ring and signs installed by two neighbors were removed from the beach by the Park District, said Ald. Maria Hadden (49th).

The life ring and signs were installed on the end of Pratt Pier, which juts out into the lake at Tobey Prinz Beach, 1050 W. Pratt Blvd. Of the four people who have drowned in Rogers Park in recent years, three of the incidents happened near the pier, Hadden said.

That includes a drowning last week: On Aug. 22, 19-year-old Miguel Cisneros Jr. drowned after jumping off Pratt Pier for a swim. It happened before lifeguards were on duty.

Cisneros was close enough to be thrown a life ring, Hadden said. Onlookers ran from the pier to the lifeguard station on the beach, where they were unable to access a life ring or rope, she said in a recent email to constituents. First responders were unable to save Cisneros.

Rogers Park resident Jim Ginderske said he was tired of the Park District’s “inaction” and decided to do something about it.

Ginderske put up a Coast Guard-rated life ring Friday night. Another person added two signs later. One said, “Do not swim near pier. Strong current,” with the words “F— austerity” at the bottom. The second sign said, “Life rings not goons.”

But they only lasted the weekend.

“I’m not surprised they removed it,” Ginderske said. “I’m appalled they removed it and didn’t replace it.”

A life ring and “warning” signs installed by neighbors (left) were removed by Chicago Park District Monday (right).

RELATED: Rogers Park Legend Croslene Kettle Lived And Died At The End Of The Pratt Pier

With the signs removed, there is no warning mentioning dangerous lake conditions at the end of the popular pier. Ginderske said he could understand removing the foul language from the signs, but something is needed in their place.

“It’s especially troubling,” he said of the sign removals.

Park District officials did not say why the life ring and signs were removed but said the district is looking into adding life-saving devices at beaches.

“The Chicago Park District is currently exploring supplemental safety equipment for sanctioned swim locations,” spokesperson Michele Lemons said in a statement. “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.”

Hadden and neighbors are renewing their efforts to have the Park District install flotation devices along the lake.

“We’ve been working for a couple years trying to get the Park District to care about the safety of swimmers along the lakefront,” Hadden said in a social media post. “Here we are, another summer and more drowning victims.”

Credit: Jonathan Ballew/Block Club Chicago
Pratt Pier at Tobey Prinz Beach.

Rogers Park neighbors have asked for life rings at beaches for years. That is especially true near Pratt Pier, where waters are rougher than closer to the beach, neighbors said.

In 2018, one of the pier’s most prominent fisherman, Croslene Kettle, drowned near Pratt Pier while going for a routine swim. His death stunned friends and neighbors, as Kettle had fished and swam near the pier for decades.

Credit: Sam Favre
For almost 40 years, Croslene Kettle fished the pier in Rogers Park.

In 2017, Halle Quezada was at Rogers Beach Park when a 13-year-old girl drowned. Since then, she’s worked with neighbors like Ginderske to increase safety measures at beaches and pools.

Quezada’s started a petition to have the Park District install life rings at beaches, and it has received nearly 3,600 signatures. Quezada said the decision to remove the life ring after a recent drowning death was “cruel.”

“These traumas live in the community, but the culpability lies with Park District,” she said.

Neighbors have asked that aldermanic budgets fund flotation device installations at Rogers Park beaches. Hadden supports the measure but has said the Park District has stymied the efforts over the possibility of legal liability if life rings are not available during emergencies because they were stolen or used and not replaced.

The city — not the Park District — has installed life rings at bridges and along the Chicago River, Hadden said.

“I think it’s a cop-out,” she said. “They could be doing so much more.”


September 1 - Another ring is up - ABC 7 (tv) briefly interviewed me.  I spoke of support of the man putting the rings up - and disdain for the Park District.   If the ring isn't of an "approved" vendor - put one up with an approved vendor - before taking the one out there down.

September 2nd - the ring is still up!  Thankful!

Later on the 2nd - it was taken down and remains down as of September 4th!  - Sad, dangerous, and essentially criminal!

The Third Ring - Put Up by One of Us

Since - Taken Down - Presumably by the Park District

Complicit - for Negligent Homicide - It Should have been 

Immediately Replaced by an "Approved" Ring

Zoey - Another Dawn - at a Most Tragic Spot


The Chicago Park District - continued their deceit - liability issues
remain all that matters to them - Negligent Homicide Remains the Charge!
The Chicago Park District Board meeting today was hurtful once again. My thoughts and some clips here:

CHICAGO (CBS) — Baby steps were taken Friday in the fight to get life rings to Chicago’s lakefront at a meeting between the city and the family of the 19-year-old who drowned almost two weeks ago at the pier where it happened.

CBS 2’s Marissa Parra has been reporting on the fight to get life rings to the city’s lakefront for months.


A sign recommends throwing a life ring if someone is in trouble, but there is no life ring in sight. That was just one of the concerns brought up at the meeting, but the Park District didn’t want to talk about that.

“If flotation devices had been available, lives would have been saved,” said Maria Diaz, whose son died almost two weeks ago.

Nineteen-year-old Miguel Cisneros was supposed to be moving in at Columbia University for a full scholarship, but dreams were cut short on Aug. 22 when his swim turned deadly.

Since then, anguish has turned to anger and action as word spread that the athletic Chicagoan was feet from the pier with no life ring in sight — despite cries from residents for years.

Facing heat, the city’s park district repainted the “No Swimming” stenciling along the pier this week.

Rogers Park residents pitched in to bring their own life rings to Pratt Pier, but for the third time, those life rings were taken down by the Park District. The latest time was minutes before a meeting between the city, Miguel’s cousin, and activists.

On Thursday, the Park District said the rings they took down the first two times were not authorized safety devices, but they are willing to reevaluate their position on keeping some up.

“I came to this meeting to discuss life rings and other safety devices,” Miguel’s cousin Ricardo Diaz said. “We’re not just going to wait and hold our breath. We are in the process of exploring all of our options.”

To the dismay of several, the walkthrough discussed signage and stenciling and flags — everything but life rings.

“We’ll be cautiously optimistic,” said Ald. Maria Hadden (49th). “We can give them a little time, if what they come back with does not include it, we’ll continue to advocate and push for those.”

For Miguel’s mom, getting life rings along the city’s lake is the only way her family will find peace.

“This is not just about him,” she said. “I hope this is Miguel’s legacy to save more lives. That would make the pain I’m going through a little more bearable.”

Hadden says she is remaining cautiously optimistic that the Park District’s plans in the next two weeks will include a plan for life rings along the entire lake and not just along Pratt Pier.

But Rep. Kelly Cassidy’s statement brought a bit of fire:

“This issue isn’t new to our community and my constituents have been demanding action for years. I’m encouraged that the Park District appears ready to act, but even before the most recent tragedy we were working on legislation to mandate appropriate safety equipment at our beaches and I am prepared to move forward with it.”

The family is holding a vigil for Miguel next Tuesday at Tobey Prinz Beach Park at 7:30.

As I type this, the Chicago Park District is installing life rings on and near the Farwell Pier. I hope this is a small measure of relief for Miguel’s family. But let me be clear, we expect the Park District to follow through on their promise to bring better signage, education and flotation devices to all of our beaches.
And to their proposal of closing off prohibited areas to the public, this community, our community, is not asking for this pier - or any pier - to be close…
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As I type this, the Chicago Park District is installing life rings on and near the Farwell Pier. I hope this is a small measure of relief for Miguel’s family. But let me be clear, we expect the Park District to follow through on their promise to bring better signage, education and flotation devices to all of our beaches.
And to their proposal of closing off prohibited areas to the public, this community, our community, is not asking for this pier - or any pier - to be closed. While they have yet to determine potential closures, I have cautioned the Park District that this would not be accepted by our residents or my office AND would create a host of other issues. The 49th Ward will fight any proposed pier closures.
What we need is what we have asked for: life rings and other life saving flotation devices. The people who live here know best what will fix the problem. My office will continue to work with the Park District towards this effort so that our community has what we need.

  • I biked out to see the life ring. While I was there, I saw Marissa Parra from Channel 2 News, who is doing a story on it. But she said, and I agreed, that this by itself is not enough.
    May be an image of ocean
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    • interesting they chose the same ring and cabinet they claim has issues of “rampant theft” on harbors when there are others designed to reduce theft…
      I believe the RP Community will work with each other to make sure this ring is care… 
      See More
      • interesting indeed.
      • Thank you, , and all the tireless efforts of CAWS and Rogers Park neighbors to get the Park District this far. Thank you to the Chicago Park District for installing these much needed life rings.
        As someone who loves the lake and is an experienced open water swimmer, I’d very much like to see widespread safety education about the lake and beaches for Chicagoans. The more familiar you are with the lake, and the more aware you are of how the lake’s conditions on any given day match your swimming skills, the safer you are. I have a friend who is a highly accomplished marathon swimmer (English Channel, etc) who says Lake Michigan is actually more ideal for training than in the ocean because the lake’s currents are more complex than ocean currents. (I can’t explain why, but I trust her on this.) This tells me that it’s not the lake per se that’s so dangerous, but the lack of awareness of one’s own abilities compared to the demands of the lake (waves, currents, temperature, etc). Not everyone cares about swimming in the lake—and that’s fine—but everyone cares about staying alive, and our loved ones staying alive.
        Swimming lessons for everyone who wants them + life rings + public education about beach/lake safety for everyone. Thats what I think the philosophy of the Chicago Park District should be.
        As for closing off previously open beach areas to the public: that is a blaring invitation for mischief and daredevil behavior, much more than any life ring would ever be.
        My dream for Chicago is that within the next few years we become world leaders in beachfront safety.
        To sum up, we need:
        1. Widespread public education about beach/lake safety
        2. Signs and life rings at appropriate intervals all up and down Chicago’s lakefront
        3. Affordable swimming programs for any Chicagoan who is interested.


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