Security Guard Killed as Golf Cart Plunges into Lake during Patrol

Police rule as accident, but victim's sister demands probe


Just before sunrise Sunday, two security guards patrolling Burnham Harbor in a golf cart hit a concrete wall and tumbled into Lake Michigan.

About 4:30 a.m., the driver of the cart was able to free himself and swim to safety, but his passenger, 33-year-old Rigoberto Sanchez, was not, a police spokeswoman said. Sanchez died about an hour later at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Arcilia Sanchez said her younger brother was called in to work on his day off. He was disabled, taking medication for a mental illness and limited to working 24 hours a week.

"If he didn't go in to work, he'd still be here," she said.

Police ruled Rigoberto Sanchez's drowning an accident. But Arcilia Sanchez said she wants a full investigation, including drug and alcohol testing on the golf cart driver, whom police would not identify.

"I want answers. If you drive a golf cart all the time, how can you lose control? How did it happen?" she said. "Something doesn't look right."

An autopsy is scheduled for today.

OWNERS ONCE GUARDED DALEY

Rigoberto Sanchez and the driver worked for Security Management Group of America, which handles harbor security for Westrec Marinas, the firm contracted with the Park District to manage city harbors.

SMG is owned by the former head of Mayor Daley's security detail, Michael Marano, and two other former Daley bodyguards, Gregory Ramirez and Henry Stanton. In 1997, the Chicago Sun-Times revealed they had joined their wives in forming the security firm and reaped thousands of dollars in contracts and subcontracts while they worked for the Chicago Police Department.

Those men resigned from the department and the mayor's detail rather than give up the lucrative private security firm, which has city contracts. In May 2005, SMG was the sole bidder and winner of a three-year, $727,000 contract to provide festival security, including the Taste of Chicago.

Marano did not return a message seeking comment about Sanchez's death.