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Judge dismisses suit in Fox River drowning death

Published: Friday, March 22, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, March 22, 2013 7:34 a.m. CDT

GENEVA – Kane County Judge Edward Schreiber on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit filed by the family of a man who drowned in the Fox River last year after trying to save a boy who fell in the water near the Geneva dam.

The city of Geneva sought to have the suit dismissed, and the judge granted the request. An attorney representing the family vowed to appeal the decision.

The suit blamed the city for a lack of safety measures – warning signs and rescue equipment – near the Geneva dam. The lawsuit was filed in May 2012 by William Suchy, the brother of Randy Suchy, 57, of Bolingbrook. Randy Suchy drowned Aug. 5, 2011, after jumping into the Fox River to save a 12-year-old boy.

The Geneva Park District and Kane County were named as defendants in the suit, and they were part of the motion to dismiss. The suit sought more than $50,000 in damages.

Schreiber agreed with the city’s and park district’s contention that they don’t have control over the Fox River and the Geneva dam. Ed Dutton, the park district’s attorney, said only the Illinois Department of Natural Resources has “jurisdiction and supervision” over any river within the state.

“They had no duty to warn,” he said. “It is unlikely that any warning would have prevented Randy Suchy from entering into the river. He entered it precisely because of the danger it posed.”

Schreiber added that “it is undisputed that rivers in general can be dangerous.”

Chicago attorney David Wise, who represents the family, said he plans to appeal the judge’s decision in the next 30 days.

“It was not obvious to the boy how dangerous the dam is,” he said.

Wise also argued the city and park district can control where people access the Fox River.

Before the drowning, the 12-year-old boy was pulled into the undertow at the base of the dam. Suchy jumped into the water to save the boy, but he was pulled into the boil. Both were pulled out by bicyclists who were on the Fox River Trail.

The boy survived, but Suchy died from his injuries at Delnor Hospital in Geneva.

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