On the Fourth of July, a heroic father of three who survived the 9/11 attacks tragically passed away while saving the lives of children whose raft capsized in Lake Michigan.
Luke Laidley, 43, was driving a boat on Lake Michigan near Winnetka, Illinois when he saw a raft of children overturn around 1:30 p.m.
Some of the children who were thrown into the water began struggling to stay afloat. Laidley wasted no time, jumping into the water to save those who were drowning.
After about a minute underwater, Laidley surfaced with the children and got them safely out of the water. However, once he got himself back on the boat, he was in serious condition.
Those on the boat administered CPR before emergency responders arrived on the scene, but Laidley was pronounced dead shortly after he arrived at nearby Evanston Hospital.
“It’s tragic,” said Winnetka Fire Chief John Ripka, adding that it is currently unclear whether Laidley drowned or if he experienced some other type of medical emergency when he jumped into the water.
On September 11, 2001, Laidley, a Boston College graduate, was on the second day of his new job with Morgan Stanley in New York City when the World Trade Center was hit by hijacked planes.
He was working in the south tower of the World Trade Center and was able to get out of the building safely from the 61st floor. Thirteen of his colleagues were killed that day.
After this tragic incident, Laidley returned home to Chicago and began coaching football at Carmel Catholic High School. After moving to Winnetka, he began working as a volunteer coach at Wilmette’s Loyola Academy.
Laidley was quoted by his family as saying, “I encouraged 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 smile lit up the room. He exuded positivity and perseverance with everything he did. He loved deeply and truly with all his heart,” said Laidley’s family of their lost loved one. “A life lived with purpose. A life lived to serve for others. A life lived as a hero.”
Laidley is survived by his wife, Lauren, and three children ages 7, 5, and 3. He is one of six siblings.