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Witnesses describe victim's last few minutes

PROPHETSTOWN – Javier Tiscareno was quiet in his last few minutes swimming in the Rock River, witnesses say. He was only a few feet from the bank when he disappeared.

Wednesday was the fourth day of the search for Tiscareno, 30, of Brookfield, a Chicago suburb. He went missing about 5 p.m. Sunday at Prophetstown State Park.

Others at the park saw Tiscareno shortly before he went missing. They described him as spaced out. Some say he appeared drunk.

Will Shaffer, 46, of Lyndon, who was fishing at the park Wednesday, said he was there Sunday and saw Tiscareno close to the river’s edge.

At one point, Tiscareno clung to a boat along the bank. Shaffer could hear a lot of splashing then, but Tiscareno proceeded.

Others told Tiscareno to get out of the water.

“He wasn’t far from the bank. It was a bad current right then. He just looked at us. He didn’t say anything,” Shaffer said.

Tiscareno bobbed up and down in the water a couple of times where Coon Creek flows into the Rock River.

“We thought he was looking for clams. We kept fishing,” Shaffer said.

Then he went under and didn’t emerge, Shaffer said.

Chris Spitzer, 24, of Prophetstown, was fishing near the spot where Tiscareno went missing. The swimmer got near his fishing line. Spitzer, too, thought he was trying to get clams.

“I told him to get out of the water. He didn’t acknowledge us, but he made eye contact. I don’t know if he was intoxicated,” Spitzer said. “He wasn’t acting like he was drowning.”

Patrick Rosenow, 31, of Lyndon, was at his campsite along the riverbank a little farther upstream when he saw Tiscareno in the water for some minutes. He appeared to be neck-deep, but was probably crouching because the water is so shallow there, Rosenow said.

“My brother yelled at him to get out of the water. [Tiscareno] looked out of it,” Rosenow said. “He was spaced out. If he wasn’t drunk, he was on something.”

Rosenow didn’t see Tiscareno go down, but found out about the situation when he heard sirens a little later.

One of Tiscareno’s friends, Daniel, 27, was in the water with Tiscareno, but Daniel got out when the current became too strong. He told Sauk Valley Media on Sunday that Tiscareno had been drinking before swimming.

Since Sunday, the park has blocked off its main entrance. Wednesday afternoon, two fire departments – Prophetstown and Erie – were searching for Tiscareno, going downstream to the Erie area.

They called the Rock Falls Fire Department to bring sonar equipment early in the afternoon. A Rock Falls crew arrived shortly afterward.

Meanwhile, park users had to use a rear, less-developed entrance.

Samuel Girkin, 15, of Prophetstown, was about ready to start fishing Wednesday west of the creek when he found out he wasn’t allowed in that area.

“It’s a crime scene,” another fisherman told him.

Girkin crossed a bridge and went to the other side.

“I didn’t know it was a crime scene,” he said. “I was just about ready to cast out.”

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