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Third sister from Indiana lake tragedy dies

/ Source: The Associated Press

The family of two girls who drowned while playing in a lake lost a third daughter Saturday, a 14-year-old who had been pulled from the lake barely alive after trying to save her sisters.

The family decided Saturday to take Esther Niebauer off life support, her uncle Robert Mamroth said. She would have turned 15 on Monday.

“This is a blow to the whole community,” said Leann Perrine, manager of Shadyside Mobile Home Community, where the Niebauer family lives in northwestern Indiana, 42 miles outside of Chicago.

Naomi Niebauer, 13, and Miriam, 8, had been in a roped-off swimming area of the lake at Lakewood Park in Burns Harbor on Thursday, said Officer Bob Cauffman of the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. There were no lifeguards on duty and authorities said there was a sign warning that people who swim there do so at their own risk.

When the two younger girls disappeared in the lake, Esther went in to help, but she, too, went under. A fourth sister called for their older brother to help but he couldn’t find the girls. Their mother, who couldn’t swim, went to call for help.

Authorities said all three girls were found in about 10 feet of water. The lake level drops off quickly from a depth of 4 feet.

Naomi died Thursday afternoon, and Miriam was pronounced dead later that evening at a hospital. Esther had been flow to a Chicago hospital in critical condition.