Coast Guard, IDNR and local responders recover 2 bodies in Cal-Sag Channel

CLEVELAND — Search teams from the Coast Guard, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and local agencies recovered two bodies Saturday afternoon following a vessel collision in the Cal-Sag Channel near Palos Hills, Illinois.

At around 1:15 p.m. local time searchers recovered the bodies, one male and one female.

They were not wearing life jackets.

The case began about 11 p.m., local time, Friday, when a crewmember onboard the 66-foot uninspected towing vessel Bill Arnold notified watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan, in Milwaukee, of a collision with a 19-foot pleasure craft in the Cal-Sag Channel near mile marker 311. The Coast Guard and other emergency responders immediately began searching for occupants of the pleasure craft.

Involved response agencies suspended their active search and transitioned to a recovery operation Saturday afternoon.

“The decision to shift from search-and-rescue to recovery is one of the most difficult decisions imaginable,” said Capt. Amy Cocanour, commanding officer of Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of everyone involved.”

Dive operations have been suspended due to weather, but the use of side-scan sonar continues in the search for at least one more person. An aircrew from Coast Guard Air Facility Waukegan, Illinois, aboard a Dolphin helicopter conducted an overflight after fog in the area lifted.

Involved in the response are boat crews from Coast Guard Station Calumet Harbor, Illinois, aboard a 25-foot response boat; an aircrew from Coast Guard Air Facility Waukegan, aboard a Dolphin helicopter; inspectors from Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit Chicago; crews from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources; crews from the Palos Hills and Lockport, Illinois Fire Departments, with dive teams and side-scan sonar aboard; and crews from the Palos Hills and Worth, Illinois, Police Departments.

A Coast Guard safety zone remains in effect around the area, and the channel is still closed to vessel traffic between mile marker 308 and mile marker 315.

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