Tony DiTola knew someone was hurt, but didn't realize the little boy rescued from a ravine over the weekend was his son until the boy was loaded onto a stretcher and taken to a waiting ambulance.
The Lockport boy, Aiden DiTola, died Sunday from head injuries after falling about 15 feet and striking a rock while on a camping weekend at Perry Farm in Bradley, Kankakee County authorities said.
"It was just a freak accident. He was just out having fun. This was a camp he'd really been looking forward to. They had military reenactments and he was really into that sort of thing," said Tony DiTola. "He was having a great old time."
The boy was hiking with with fellow Scouts from Troop 50 in Lockport when he lost his footing, slipped and fell, Kankakee County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Ken McCabe said. Aiden and his father and 11-year-old brother, Devon, were at the Bourbonnais Township site for fewer than 24 hours when the boy fell.
Tony DiTola said his son, with sparkling blue eyes, was a "fun loving kid" who loved his friends, camping and the numerous pets he had over the years.
He said he's holding onto the thought that his son was happy in his final moments. They were attending an event called Pause for Patriotism, where there were firefighters and war re-enactments, a couple of Aiden's favorite things.
Social workers were on hand at Ludwig School, where Aiden DiTola was a fourth grader. The family's neighbors also offered their support of the grief-stricken family.
"I couldn't imagine as a family what they're going through. I don't know what my mom would be going through if this was her -- I couldn't imagine what any family would go through losing a child so young. I just want to be there for them as much as I possibly can," said a neighbor named Danielle.
Arrangements for services were posted Tuesday to the school district website. A visitation will be held from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday at the O'Neil Funeral home, at 1105 E. 9th St., in Lockport. A Thursday funeral is private.