Luke Laidley, a heroic father of three who had survived the tragic events of September 11, tragically drowned while attempting to rescue children from a capsized raft on Lake Michigan during the Fourth of July celebrations. The incident occurred near Elder Beach in Winnetka, IL, as Laidley was operating a boat.
When the raft overturned around 1:30 p.m., Laidley fearlessly jumped into the water to save the struggling children without hesitation. He spent approximately a minute submerged before resurfacing with the children, successfully bringing them to safety with the help of others present.
After being pulled back onboard, CPR was administered to Laidley. He was then transported to Evanston Hospital in serious condition but was unfortunately pronounced dead shortly after his arrival.
Loved ones describe Laidley as a devoted family man and he is survived by his wife, Lauren, and their three children, aged 7, 5, and 3.
Following his graduation from Boston College, Laidley embarked on his professional journey in New York City, securing a finance position with investment banking firm Morgan Stanley in September 2001. Tragically, his second day at work coincided with the devastating terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
Amidst the chaos, Laidley managed to evacuate safely from the 61st floor of the South Tower, as confirmed by his family’s statement. Regrettably, thirteen fellow Morgan Stanley employees lost their lives during the 9/11 attacks.
In the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy, the heroic father reflected on the profound impact it had on his perspective and approach to life. He emphasized the importance of gratitude, selflessness, and being part of something greater than oneself. These sentiments were shared by his family, who quoted Laidley’s account of that day in their statement.
Subsequently, Laidley returned to Chicago where he would meet his future wife, finding solace and new beginnings after the tragic events he had experienced.
The cause of the heroic father’s death remains uncertain, as it is unclear whether he experienced a medical emergency during his courageous act or if he tragically drowned. Winnetka Fire Chief John Ripka described his passing as “tragic,” highlighting the sorrow surrounding the circumstances of his death.
“His smile lit up the room. He exuded positivity and perseverance with everything he did. He loved deeply and truly with all his heart,” the family shared about Laidley. “A life lived with purpose. A life lived to serve for others. A life lived as a hero.”
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