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Search will continue for woman missing from Illinois River boat accident

Published: Monday, June 23, 2014 11:15 p.m. CDT
(Heidi Litchfield -
Division 15 water rescue personnel battled flood waters Sunday as they looked for a missing 20-year-old woman after a Bayliner pleasure craft hit the Dresden dam.

MORRIS – Recovery efforts were suspended again Monday afternoon, but are set to continue each morning, in the search for a 20-year-old female who went missing Sunday after a boating accident on the Illinois River at the Dresden Dam.

“We’ve called off the search. We’ve done all we can do upstream,” Deputy Chief Bob Wills with Morris Fire Protection & Ambulance District said Monday. “We will begin another search tomorrow, and will go out every morning until she’s found.”

Authorities were called about 3:30 p.m. Sunday after a Bayliner pleasure craft became lodged in a Dresden Dam gate, which is located a couple miles east of Morris.

The Coal City Fire Protection District was called to the Dresden Dam, and rescued one person from the boat. Two others were rescued from the water on the other side of the dam by a pleasure craft. All were taken to Morris Hospital & Healthcare Centers by ambulance Sunday, according to Lt. Nick Doerfler, public information officer with the Coal City fire department.

A fourth person, the 20-year-old female, also went through the dam gate, but rescuers have been unable to locate her. Her identity had not been released as of Monday.

The search had to be halted Sunday evening because of weather and flooding. It began again Monday morning with the command center set up at Stratton Park in Morris. The search was halted again by noon Monday with plans to continue again Tuesday morning.

Illinois Department of Natural Resources conservation police are investigating the cause of the accident and assisting Division 15 water rescue with the search efforts.

“Debris in the water is complicating search efforts,” IDNR spokesman Chris Young wrote in an email Monday. “At Dresden, searchers were using sonar this morning, but debris made it difficult to get a clear picture. Due to the conditions, divers are unable to get into the water to search. Daily surface patrols are continuing.”

The search resumed about 9:30 a.m. Monday, but conditions made the effort difficult.

“The conditions of the river are bad,” said Deputy Chief Jon Stratton of Plainfield Fire Protection District, who was at the Grundy County Emergency Command Center at Stratton Park. “There is so much debris in the river. There are logs 20 to 25 feet long and about two feet in diameter floating in the river. We had to put people on the bough of the rescue boats to make sure we didn’t hit anything on Sunday.”

The United States Coast Guard also took part in the search Sunday and Monday by helicopter.

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