HARVARD – Blanca Alvarez choked back tears Tuesday as she reflected on the life of her husband’s cousin, who died far too soon.
“He was a very friendly boy, very joyful,” she said. “He loved rodeos. He loved horse riding.”
Around 7:30 p.m. Monday, three cousins were fishing in a canoe in a retention pond near the 800 block of Apple Valley Road in Harvard when the boat tipped over, killing 12-year-old Christian Robles.
The two other boys – ages 12 and 10 – were not hurt, thanks in part to the efforts of neighbor Tyler Kurth, 26, who swam into the pond and rescued one of the boys.
Kurth and his girlfriend, Kylie Raciborski, went outside to use the grill when they heard screaming coming from the adjacent pond.
“When I looked out, I only saw two kids, and one of them was flailing,” Kurth said. “He was basically about to go under. I threw my shorts off and went in.”
Kurth swam about 20 yards and put the young boy on his back. As the two swam to shore, the boy informed Kurth there was one more boy still underwater. The third boy had made it safely out of the pond.
Kurth grabbed an oar and went back into the water to search for the other boy. He prodded the water with the oar, hoping to make contact with the boy. But the water in the pond was 15 to 20 feet deep, Harvard Fire Protection District Battalion Chief Daniel Danczyk said.
“I did what anyone else would have done,” Kurth said. “It’s just lucky we went out to start the grill. If we were in the house, we would have never heard them.”
The trio had been fishing in the retention pond for three hours when all three leaned over one side of the canoe, causing it to capsize, according to the Harvard Police Department. The boys were not wearing life preservers nor were any found in the vessel.
Fire department personnel were called about 7:30 p.m., Danczyk said.
Firefighters found Robles about an hour after they were called. When he was brought to shore, firefighters tried life-saving measures. The boy was taken to Mercy Harvard Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 8:46 p.m.
Crews from Wonder Lake, Woodstock, Cary, Fox River Grove and McHenry Township were among those called to the scene. Dive crews from Harvard were used in the rescue effort.
• Northwest Herald reporters Lawerence Synett and Joe Bustos contributed to this report.