Chicago area man who drowned trying to help children had survived 9/11 attacks

Jul 7, 2023, 1:04 PM | Updated: 1:52 pm

WINNETKA, Ill. (AP) — A suburban Chicago man who drowned in Lake Michigan while trying to help children struggling in the lake was a survivor of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, his family said.

Witnesses said Luke Laidley, 43, was boating Tuesday with others on the lakefront north of Chicago when he jumped into the lake to help at least one child who had fallen off a raft being pulled by the boat.

The Winnetka man went underwater before being pulled from the lake by others on the boat. Laidley died later Tuesday at an Evanston hospital and the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office determined his manner of death was drowning, said Natalia Derevyanny, an office spokeswoman.

An obituary prepared by his family states that Laidley “risked his life for the children who were struggling when their tube flipped on Lake Michigan.”

The obituary adds that Laidley was 21 and on his second day on the job with Morgan Stanley in the World Trade Center’s South Tower when it was struck by a hijacked plane on 9/11, during the terrorist attacks that day.

The obituary says Laidley later wrote of the experience: “I encourage all of us to count our blessings each and every day. Give of yourself and expect nothing in return. And become part of something that is greater than yourself.”

Laidley was married and had three children, ages 7, 5 and 3, and lived in Winnetka, located in Chicago’s northern suburbs along Lake Michigan.

“Luke lived his life guided by his experiences and he had several that allowed him to bestow compassion, love, inspiration, and leadership to others. He lived a hero’s song,” his obituary states.

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Chicago area man who drowned trying to help children had survived 9/11 attacks