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A 43-year-old father of three who was in the World Trade Center during the September 11, 2001, terror attack died on Tuesday after saving children involved in a boating accident on Lake Michigan.
Luke Laidley jumped into the water near Elder Beach in Winnetka, Illinois, after a group of children fell in when a tube his boat was pulling flipped, ABC 7 Chicago reported. After spending a minute submerged while rescuing the children, Laidley appeared above the surface and was pulled onto the boat, according to fire officials. Those boating with Laidley quickly began CPR on him, and the 9/11 survivor was rushed to the hospital but died a short time later.
— New York Post (@nypost) July 7, 2023
According to his family, Laidley was 21 years old when he took his first job with Morgan Stanley in September 2001. During his second day on the job on the 61st floor of Tower Two, both World Trade Center Towers were hit by hijacked airplanes in a terrorist attack. Thirteen Morgan Stanley employees died in the attack, but Laidley safely evacuated, the New York Post reported.
“As a survivor of the 61[st] floor of Tower 2, he later wrote, ‘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,’” his family said.
Drownings in Lake Michigan so far in 2023 remain below levels at this time last year, according to Bridge Michigan. On Wednesday, an Ohio man became the 12th person to drown in Lake Michigan and 33rd to drown in the Great Lakes. Last year, there were 53 drownings in the Great Lakes by July 4. Drownings often rise when water temperatures in the lakes warm, leading to more people feeling comfortable swimming in the water which is often plagued by strong undercurrents. Some of Lake Michigan has reached temperatures in the low 70s this year.
Laidley leaves behind his wife Lauren and three children ages 7, 5, and 3, according to the Post.
“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 family wrote. “Luke Laidley embraced and lived this belief to the end on July 4, 2023, where he risked his life for the children who were struggling when their tube flipped on Lake Michigan.”