Chicago Police Officer Honored For Heroism

Lisa Fielding
September 11, 2018 - 2:28 pm

WBBM Newsradio/Lisa Fielding

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The waves were rough at Loyola Park Beach on July 6.

"That area where everybody went in, that was the worst possible place you could be. That jetty is where the waves were the worst. The waves themselves were probably six, eight feet that day, very strong," recalls Officer Steve Ommundson, 24th District.

He and three other officers responded to a Marine Distress call at the beach that day. When they arrived, three teenagers told them that they were swimming in the lake and the rip current pulled two of their friends away from the shore.

"When I looked out into the water and I saw her out there, there was nobody at that time that could get to her and bring her back. Had we waited for the police marine unit and the fire department, she probably would've been taken away," Ommundson said.

Ommundson immediately stripped off his uniform and gun belt and jumped into the water.

"I removed all my clothing to remove weight and help me swim faster and reach her," he said.

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"I was just memorized at how quickly Officer Ommundson was able to arrive to the scene and remove his uniform. It literally looked like he was wearing a uniform of Velcro it was one snap and before you knew it, he was in the water, without a thought. He jumped into the water in his underwear to help someone else," said Roberto Nieves, Commander, 24th District, Rogers Park.

Ommundson was able to reach the 13-year-old girl and bring her to the shore, but he wasn't done just yet.

"Officer Ommundson re-entered the water to search for the second victim and saw that Officer Wilson and another citizen were now trapped on the break wall being pummeled by the waves and in danger of being swept into the lake. He swam through the water, and reached Officer Wilson, preventing her from being swept away by the current," said Phil Cline, Executive Director, Chicago Police Memorial Foundation.

"Officer Ommundson re-entered the water for a third time, swimming through the waves and eventually reaching a male citizen who had also attempted to rescue the teen girls, but was now stranded and clinging to the jetty," Cline said.

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"Once I got her back to shore, I went in a couple of other times to help an officer and another citizen," Ommundson said.

The other teenage victim was spotted floating in the water unresponsive later that evening. Darinanne Torres died at the hospital. Ommundson said he was able to see the girl he saved at a vigil for her friend.

"I got to meet her and see if she was ok. Once I got her out of the water, the fire department took her away and to the hospital," he said.

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Before he was a police officer, Ommundson was a lifeguard at Montrose Beach and for the Chicago Park District Marine Rescue Unit.

He was named September Officer of the Month.

"It's a great honor to receive an award like this. I never expected any of this. I was just doing what I signed up to do, which is to help people," he said.