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Search for swimmer resumes

Friend says victim was 'having a good time'

PROPHETSTOWN – A search for a missing swimmer at Prophetstown State Park resumed this morning.

On Sunday, crews in about 10 boats searched the Rock River for more than 4 hours, ending after 9 p.m. Officials didn't release the name of the man, who is believed to be in his 20s.

His friend, Daniel of Cicero, who declined to reveal his last name, said he and the man went swimming from their park campsite along the Rock River. Daniel said he went ashore because the current was too strong, but he said the victim seemed all right. The man even was talking to campers from the water, Daniel said.

"He was swimming and having a good time," Daniel said.

But after Daniel emerged from the water, another friend who hadn't gone swimming told him that their friend had gone down. That friend had already called 911.

"I can't believe it happened," said Daniel, 27. "If you don't know how to swim, stay out of the water."
Daniel declined to comment on his friend's swimming ability. But he said his friend had been drinking before swimming.

Daniel said the two were in the water for less than a half-hour, perhaps only 15 minutes.

The friends arrived at the park early Saturday, with a mission to catch fish. The victim led the others, bringing in a haul of eight fish, Daniel said.

The victim's family had been frequent visitors of the park for decades. It was Daniel's first visit.

Mike Challand, the park's superintendant for the past 4 years, said he spoke with an employee who had been there 30 years and that he couldn't remember a drowning in all that time. Swimming has long been banned at the park, Challand said.

"It's an unfortunate thing," he said. "What do you do? You hope for the best."

Many fire departments from around the area responded to the rescue, including the Scales Mound department from Jo Daviess County, which is about 1-hour, 45-minute drive. 

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