A well-known and well-liked pediatric surgeon from Chicago reportedly died this weekend during a heroic effort to save two children from drowning in Lake Michigan.
Dr. Donald Liu, the Comer Children’s Hospital’s Chief of Pediatric Surgery was with his wife and kids for a weekend getaway when he spotted two children struggling at Cherry Beach in Berrien County, Michigan, the Chicago Tribune writes.
The Tribune added that during his rescue attempt, Liu, a skilled surgical oncologist who specialized in removing tumors from children’s chests and abdomens, was pulled underwater by a powerful rip current.
Though the 50-year-old doctor was successful in saving the children, he went under before rescue crews could arrive.
“He managed to help them but he got pulled down by the undertow himself,” said friend and colleague Dr. Jeffrey Matthews, chairman of surgery at the University of Chicago Hospitals. “He really died a hero.”
Matthews said Liu had joined the University of Chicago department of surgery in 2001 and recently received a “distinguished clinician” award.
“We know that given the same set of circumstances, he would have done it again.” Matthews added. “[Liu] would do anything for the children.”
Liu is survived by his wife, Dr. Dana Suskind, and three children: Genevieve, 13, Asher, 10, and Amalie, 7.
In addition to Liu, two other men drowned on Sunday as high winds and waves swept Michigan’s west coast, according to dispatch supervisor for Berrien Country, Jeff Thornton.
“The other victims were a 41-year-old from Montgomery, Ill., and a 40-year-old from Cincinnati,” Thornton said.
ABC 7 has more information on the tragic drowning death of Dr. Donald Liu at Lake Michigan’s Cherry Beach in the video below: