Daily Hearald news
By Lee Filas
Divers from area rescue departments recovered the body of a 44-year-old man who went missing after jumping off a pontoon boat to swim in Gages Lake, officials said Tuesday.
Lake County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Karen Kates said the man was found in water more than 40 feet deep at 3:18 p.m.
Divers look for missing boater
Authorities said the missing swimmer and a friend drove the 18-foot pontoon boat to near the center of Gages Lake and decided to jump in for a swim about 9 p.m. Monday. However, the unanchored boat drifted away from them in the high winds, Kates said, and left them stranded.
The victim, who is from the Gages Lake area, and the friend attempted to swim to shore, but the victim never made it, Kates said.
Kates said the victim isn’t being immediately identified, pending notification of next of kin. His body will undergo an autopsy at the Lake County Coroner’s Office.
Grayslake Fire Protection District Fire Chief John Christian said his department was called to the lake at 9:37 p.m. Monday on a report of a missing swimmer. Christian said crews searched the lake until about 12:30 a.m., but did not find him.
Divers returned to the lake at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday when they switched from search and rescue to recovery mode, Christian said. He said the boat drifted back to shore early Tuesday morning.
At one point during the search, roughly 20 fire and rescue dive trucks were parked on the shores of Gages Lake, which is near the village of Grayslake. Meanwhile, four rescue boats equipped with side-scan sonar were in the water near the swimmer’s last known location.
Christian said the victim was part of a group of friends and family members who had been boating on the lake throughout the day Monday on the pontoon.
Those friends and family members congregated at Pebble Beach on Sears Boulevard, just east of Route 45, to watch the recovery effort.
Lake and McHenry County Fire Departments Specialized Response Team divers worked to find the man, Kates said. She said divers had to be rotated more often than usual because of Tuesday’s extreme heat.
Staff Writer Bob Susnjara contributed to this report.
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