Blue Island Alderman Michael Janko's body was recovered Thursday night near Whahala Beach. His stunned colleagues react.
The body of a south suburban Blue Island alderman was recovered Thursday night from Lake Michigan in Indiana after he went missing while boating with friends.
Michael Janko went missing in the water around 4 p.m. Thursday, police said. The 50-year-old was on a boat with two or three other men when he jumped in and went for a swim about a half mile from Whahala Beach.
Janko began having trouble in the water and two of the men jumped in to help him, but he sank below the surface and couldn't be found.
One of the lifeguards who went in to try and rescue him said the water was somewhat rough, and Coast Guard officials said Janko was not wearing a life jacket when he got off the boat.
Blue Island Mayor Domingo Vargas said Janko was elected alderman for the city's 5th ward in 2008 and also served as mayor pro tem.
Friends and colleagues on Friday stood together supporting each other and expressing their grief.
"It's a shock not only personally to me but also the people behind me, the Blue Island family," Vargas said. "We've lost someone dear to this town, a person who was committed had passion had love for this town."
"I didn't believe it," Ald. Dexter Johnson said. "I was totally shocked that something like this could happen."
The Blue Island Independent party's website on Friday featured several messages expressing how much Janko will be missed by the community, and bunting hung over the Blue Island City Hall.
In Janko's neighborhood where he lived with his wife and two daughters residents say he was more of a friend than an alderman
"Very kind, very thoughtful, always cleaned up the snow for everybody," neighbor Mirela Espinosa said.
"For the family, there are no words," Ludi Vina said.