Two bodies were recovered and up to three people were missing Saturday after a boat and barge collided in the Cal-Sag Channel in Palos Heights, Illinois. Emily Florez reports.
The body of a third missing boater has been recovered from the Calumet-Saganashkee Channel, following a weekend crash between a pleasure boat and a commercial vessel near Palos Heights.
The Orland Park man’s identity was not released, but authorities said the man was found late Monday morning.
Two other people were killed in the Friday crash.
The cause of the collision remained under investigation. The 19-foot boat collided Friday night with a 66-foot commercial towing vessel around 11 p.m., according to the Coast Guard.
Officials confirmed at least three people were on board the boat at the time of the collision, but said there may have been two others.
"We're still looking at it like there were five people on board until we prove otherwise," said Jason Neubeuer with the Coast Guard.
The bodies of Jeremy Muzika, 33, and Viengsavnh Bielarz, 40, were recovered from the water Saturday afternoon, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office and the U.S. Coast Guard. Neither was wearing a life jacket, according to the Coast Guard.
They died of drowning and multiple injuries after the boat collided with a 66-foot barge, an autopsy found Sunday. The deaths were ruled accidents.
Teams from the Coast Guard, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and other authorities began a search about 11 p.m. Friday after the boat and the barge collided on the Cal-Sag near mile marker 311.
Authorities used sonar to search for victims on Saturday. But on Sunday, search efforts were hampered after powerful Saturday storms stirred up the channel, preventing two Illinois Conservation Police search teams from using sonar.
Acording to Sergeant Jeff Crowley with the Palos Hills Police Department, the area is a frequent route for barges.
“I don’t think it is very typical for a pleasure craft to be out this late at night,” Crowley said. “You don’t see a lot of pleasure crafts to be out this late at night.”