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Body of angler identified as Wonder Lake man


Ice divers using side sonar search Pistakee Bay Saturday morning for the body of a missing angler that fell through the ice Friday evening.
Ice divers using side sonar search Pistakee Bay Saturday morning for the body of a missing angler that fell through the ice Friday evening.
See images from the search site

JOHNSBURG – Authorities have ended the search for a missing angler that fell through the ice into Pistakee Bay on Friday evening after finding the victim's body this morning.

Justin Ribar, 29, of Wonder Lake, was pronounced dead at 11:12 a.m. today, the Coroner's Office said. An autopsy is scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday.

A lakefront homeowner called 911 shortly before 6 p.m. Friday after hearing cries for help from the bay. The homeowner never saw the person, but could hear the yelling, McHenry Township Fire Protection District Chief Tony Huemann said.

Rescue crews using air boats were able to travel across the ice. They found a glove, a boot and fishing gear on the ice near a section of ice that appeared to have been broken through, Battalion Chief Joe Krueger said.

Divers later found additional fishing gear on the bottom of the lake.

“That’s the only evidence we have at this point,” Huemann said late Friday night. “We don’t have any reports of a missing person.”

Ice divers made three attempts Friday night to find the victim. They spent about 45 minutes under the water, working in 15-minute shifts, said Lt. Chris Mann, the dive master for McHenry Township Fire Protection District.

The ice was about two inches thick in the location they were searching. Visibility was about three to four feet when divers entered the water, but conditions deteriorated quickly, Mann said.

Rescuers were especially cautious because initial reports about the incident were vague and they weren’t sure that someone was actually in the water.

“We have to be very careful in situations like this so we don’t injure a rescuer,” Huemann said.

Rescuers called off the search at about 9:15 p.m. Friday.

Several people had gone ice fishing on Pistakee Bay on Friday afternoon. Two men went out about an hour before rescue crews arrived, said Roxanne Reitmeier, a bartender at the nearby Oak Park Lounge. She said both had returned and paid.

“We haven’t been encouraging people to go out there,” said Tom Fuchs, owner of Oak Park Lounge. “I can’t really stop anyone, but we tell them it’s not safe.”

The ice had been unsafe for several days as temperatures pushed well into the 40s this week, Fuchs said.

Rescue crews from Fox Lake, Antioch, Cary, Fox River Grove, Crystal Lake and Wonder Lake assisted in the search.

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