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Boy saved, man dies, after falling into Fox River in Geneva

Published: Friday, Aug. 5, 2011 12:50 p.m. CST • Updated: Saturday, Aug. 6, 2011 7:17 a.m. CST
Caption
(Jonathan Bilyk – jbilyk@kcchronicle.com)
Geneva firefighters retrieve items from rocks in the middle of the Fox River. The items belonged to people who had fallen into the Fox River at the Geneva Dam on Friday at noon.

GENEVA – A 57-year-old Bolingbrook man died after he and a 12-year-old boy with whom he had been fishing were pulled from the Fox River at the dam in downtown Geneva midday Friday.

Randy A. Suchy was pronounced dead at Delnor Hospital in Geneva early Friday afternoon after he had been pulled, unresponsive, from the Fox River and transported by ambulance.

The boy, who was not identified, was taken to Delnor. But Geneva Police Cmdr. Eric Passarelli said the boy was conscious and talking to rescuers at the time he was taken to the hospital.

Passarelli said police believe Suchy was the boyfriend of the mother of the boy who was rescued.

Passarelli and bystanders who said they witnessed the events said Suchy and two boys had been fishing on some rocks out in the river very close to the dam and just outside of the dam’s “boil,” or the bottom of the dam.

Around noon, one of the boys fell into the river, Passarelli said.

“Some people said he may have been moving to a different spot on the rocks, others said he was wading into the water,” Passarelli said.

But the boy slipped and fell into the water toward the dam, Passarelli said, and was then pulled into the boil.

With the boy in danger from the churning waters, Suchy then jumped into the water, apparently in an attempt to rescue the boy, said Sarah Lloyd, a woman who said she watched the events unfold.

However, Suchy soon was pulled into the boil, as well.

At that time, a group of male bicyclists who were riding on the bicycle path along the Fox River ran into the water to attempt to rescue the boy and the man, Lloyd said. Dan Pucci, one of the bicyclists who aided the victims, said the group of six men, all of Naperville, who know each other through Knox Presbyterian Church in Naperville, were led into the water by Neil Goltermann.

Pucci said Goltermann “raced” into the water, largely without regard for his own safety.

“He got cut up pretty bad from the rocks, but he didn’t care,” Pucci said. “He was focused on saving that boy’s life.”

As the bicyclists went for the victims, the victims disappeared beneath the surface, but resurfaced shortly downstream from the dam. The cyclists then reached the victims, who were unconscious and floating on their backs, Lloyd said, and pulled them from the river.

Passarelli said rescue personnel from local fire and police departments had also arrived on the scene “en masse” by that point.

The boy was revived. Suchy, however, was transported in “very critical condition,” where he died soon after, Passarelli said.

Suchy’s death is under investigation by the Kane County Coroner’s Office.

Passarelli said police have no reason to believe intoxicating substances played a role in the events.

Goltermann was also transported to Delnor Hospital for treatment of his injuries.

Lloyd credited the actions of the bicyclists with saving at least the life of the boy.

“If they hadn’t jumped in when they did, they both would have kept going down the river, and then who knows what would have happened,” Lloyd said.

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