UPDATE: Woman dies following river rescue in Milan after boat floats over dam

Published: Jun. 14, 2020 at 6:27 PM CDT
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The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) confirmed a 21-year-old woman from Kewanee has died following a boating accident in Milan Sunday afternoon.

Four people, including the woman, were rescued after a boat floated over the Steel Dam in Milan.

Officials with the IDNR said other occupants of the boat were a 27-year-old man, a 15-year-old boy, and a 16-year-old boy, all from Kewanee.

The Rock Island Fire Dept., who responded to assist at the scene, said the call came in to their dispatch at 1:24 p.m. Sunday.

The fire department said the caller told dispatchers four people were in a boat up against the steel dam.

According to fire officials, the caller said the boat launched in the area of the Backwater Gamblers site in Rock Island and soon after, the boat's engine lost power and it began floating down the river until it reached the dam.

Rock Island Fire Dept. officials said they were dispatched to the area of 5098 11th St., which is a bridge, but before crews could get to the boat, it floated over the dam and two of its occupants fell in the river.

The Rock Island Fire Dept. launched their rescue boat, and said they were able to remove two people who were still with the boat after it floated over the dam.

Two of the other occupants in the river were also rescued by first responders. Officials said one person was spotted downstream by a MedForce helicopter. The helicopter was returning from a separate call.

"When I got here, a bunch of people lined up against the rail right there looking outwards towards the dam and they had stated that the boat had turned over," said witness Michael Jett Sr.

Rock Island fire officials said the individuals were transported by ambulance to the hospital. Their department transported three people.

Officials said CPR was performed on two of the rescued boaters. All four on board, according to authorities, were wearing life jackets.

IDNR said the accident is being investigated by the Illinois Conservation Police.

Multiple area agencies responded, including Blackhawk Fire, Rock Island City Police Department and Rock Island City Fire Department, Rock Island County Sheriff’s Department, Rock Island Arsenal Fire Department and Med-Force.

A boat with the Backwater Gamblers also offered assistance at the scene.

Editor’s note: The Illinois Dept. of Natural Resources (IDNR) reached out to TV6, issuing a correction to earlier information provided by the department stating two people died following the accident. According to IDNR, one person has died. In a statement to TV6, Rachel Torbert, Deputy Director of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources wrote, "Two occupants of the boat have been transported to local hospitals with a third transported to an Iowa City hospital; one fatality has been confirmed. Illinois Conservation Police Officers are working to recover the boat and the investigation into the accident is ongoing."