PORTAGE, Ind. (WLS) — A 7-year-old boy from Chicago drowned in Lake Michigan in Northwest Indiana when a beach alert went into effect Thursday.
Investigators said the child, whose family has been identified as Onyx Torres, was playing in waist-deep water around 4:50 p.m. near Portage Lakefront and the Riverwalk. As he entered deeper areas, currents pulled him away from the shore.
A family member tried to save him, but the current was too strong.
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Torres was found near Ogden Dunes about 20 minutes later. He was taken to Northwest Health-Portage hospital, where he died.
An autopsy completed Friday morning showed the cause of death to be accidental drowning.
Her mother, who was not by the lake on Thursday, was devastated, and had many unanswered questions.
She said her son had just finished first grade at Smyser Elementary School in Portage Park, was very smart, loved cars and making things, and was the kind of kid who brought flowers to his teachers at school.
“He would open the door for me. When, if I opened my own car door, he would say, ‘Mom, I have to be a gentleman. Remember, I have to practice decorum,'” said mother Natacha Cruz.
Both parents say their son has a bright future ahead of him.
“I never imagined he would, you know, we have to bury him, you know. I hope he grows up to be a man, and…” said father Xavier Cruz.
“We have a plan,” said Natacha Cruz. “He had seven years, seven years. It wasn't enough. I knew my son would be very successful. He even told me, ‘Mom, I'm going to college. I'm going to be an engineer. .'”
Onyx loves cars and, even at his young age, is very good at building things. Now his loved ones are spreading a critical message.
“Check the weather. Wear a life jacket even if your child knows how to swim,” said Natacha. “Hold your babies tight. Watch them.”
A GoFundMe for child funeral costs had raised over $11,000 as of Friday night.