Evanston police have charged a woman with three ordinance violations after her late-night swim sparked an overnight search for her as a possible drowning victim.

Police Cmdr. Jason Parrott says that an officer on patrol at the Dempster Street boathouse at 1:24 a.m. saw a swimmer 10 yards off the breakwall swimming out into the deep.

Parrott says the officer called out to the swimmer to return to shore, but the swimmer kept going.

The officer had checked the area and observed clothing left nearby with car keys on the lake shore’s rocks. Officers on scene were able to locate a vehicle nearby that the keys matched.

Police attempted to contact the vehicle’s owner without success.

Believing the swimmer was intent on harming herself, police called the Fire Department which launched a search that ultimately involved several agencies, including Coast Guard and Chicago Fire Department helicopters.

About two hours after the search was called off for the night, at about 7:15 a.m., the swimmer appeared back on shore unharmed and was identified as Frances Dupont, 49, of 4029 N. Harding Ave. in Chicago.

She’s been charged with being at a closed beach, being in the water after posted hours and disobeying police in a public place.

She’s scheduled to appear in Skokie district court at 9 a.m. on Sept. 22.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Swimmer arrested … AND???

    What is the rest of the story?  Where was Ms. Dupont the whole time before re-appearing at 7:15am? What was her physical / mental status? She was undoubtedly aware of of the massive search & rescue response at the lakefront which had so many vehicles, flashing lights, and scene illumination it could probably be seen from outer space … It's unfortunate she couldn't be charged with more than just a few local ordinances. What about the expenses incurred by the Coast Guard and the multiple mutual-aid agencies who had to search for her for six hours?  There must be more to this story…

  2. Late night swimmer

    How ridiculous! Had she or anyone asked for help? No. This is a situation of overzealous paranoid police. She was swimming. Not screaming for help. Had this been in a p?ace like Hawaii where people are allowed to experience the Earth's gift of rejuvenating waters and sleeping on the sand, this would not be such a ridiculous situation. God doesn't have a time for closing his/her wondrous gifts. Leave her alone and apologize to her for invading her privacy…and wasting my tax money. Go get the gangs with guns instead. Let the rest of us live in peace and privacy. More power to her!!!!! Angry Citizen of Evanston and Happy Inhabitant of Earth

    1. I think people are missing

      I think people are missing the point of living close the beach and all the regulations. Last year all I wanted to do was swim 2 half miles at the beach preparing for a race, but that are not allowed. (You have to go to the Chicago beach.) You can only swim in the small area posted, so 80% of the beachfront is illegal to swim in. We should be able to sign a waiver that will not hold Evanston responsible and enjoy the entire lake front. I hope this takes the insurance risk out of the equation.

  3. Get the rest of this story!

    I really hope you talk to this swimmer. I HAVE to know where she was in Lake Michigan for almost 6 hours.  That's a story unto itself. If she swam the whole time, she may have traversed about 12 or 13 miles. In the dark. I'm impressed. And I want to hear from her. 

  4. … and if the cop had just said ‘screw it’

    Then we'd be hearing from the same criers of FREEEEDOM that they showed callous disregard for her safety.  Next time, she should park on the street, leave her stuff in the car (except for the keys, of course), and go die in a rip current quietly.

    I mean, has NO ONE learned how to sneak around in this town?

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