Girl, 5, Dies After EMT, 19, Pulled Her from Lake Michigan: 'All I've Been Thinking About Is Her'
A 5-year-old girl has died days after a teenage EMT attempted to save her life at a Lake Michigan beach, PEOPLE confirms.
Amiyah Walker died on Friday, just three days after she was pulled from the water and found unresponsive at Chicago’s Rainbow Beach Park on Tuesday, June 25, the Chicago Police Department tells PEOPLE in a statement.
A spokesperson for the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office confirmed the death to PEOPLE, but said the cause of Amiyah’s death is “pending.”
“We were all at the beach enjoying our day and it just turned out bad,” Kianti Champion, 19, told ABC affiliate WLS. “It was kind of saddening because her mom was just at her feet the whole time crying.”
Champion and her family were preparing to leave the beach just before 9 p.m. that Tuesday when Champion — who recently received EMT training — heard the child’s mother screaming, according to WLS.
“So I’m like, we got to go and help,” Champion said. “So I ran over, just dropped everything and ran over, and I started compressions and I kept doing compressions until help came.”
Champion’s mother, Ebony Walton, told WLS that Champion didn’t hesitate when she saw the little girl unresponsive.
“To have your 19-year-old be your hero is an awesome feeling,” Walton said.
Amiyah was taken to Comer Children’s Hospital in grave condition, WLS reported. In the days after the incident, the community waited with bated breath for an update on Amiyah’s health.
“That’s all I’ve been thinking about is her,” Champion told WLS after the incident. “I’ve been hoping. I’ve just been praying. I hope she’s okay.”
Illinois Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton honored the teenager with a proclamation establishing Kianti Champion Day and praised the Black Fire Brigade, a community organization run out of a firehouse in Hyde Park, Fox affiliate WFLD reported.
“Black Fire Brigade started a year ago to train kids for careers as paramedics and firefighters,” Lt. Quention Curtis, president of the Black Fire Brigade, told WFLD. “One of the reasons we started this, the Black Fire Brigade, is to reduce the violence in the community. So our motto is: If you teach a kid to save a life, they’ll be less likely to take a life.”
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Authorities said Walker’s death highlights the importance of safety as families head to the water over the summer.
“A young child with very limited swimming ability could set into water over their head and just submerge,” Dave Benjamin, of the Great Lakes Surf Rescue Project, told WLS. “No yelling, no waving — just they’re there one second [and] gone the next.”
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