Rescuers were suddenly faced with a double emergency Monday night: first, man overboard and then the loss of contact with one of their own.
Chicago Fire Department Commissioner Jose Santiago said it happened abruptly.
“They were coming towards the boat his partner turned around and he was missing,” he said.
Sources tell NBC 5 when they reached veteran diver Juan Bucio he was unresponsive. The results of the rescue diver’s autopsy were listed as “pending” as of Tuesday night. The possibility of a medical emergency or even the boat striking Bucio have not been ruled out.
Deputy District Chief Ron Dorneker of the Chicago Fire Department's marine and dive operations praised Bucio as a dependable and seasoned veteran.
“He was a great partner in the water he was a great rescuer I can’t say enough about this man," he said.
Bucio, a father of two young boys, and his fellow divers, were searching for 28-year-old Alberto Lopez. Lopez was last seen on a boat Monday night with his life long friend Ramiro Ponce on the Chicago River.
"There were waves because a bigger boat passed by and Alberto was on the edge of the boat," Ponce said. "The boat jumped and he fell back."
A frantic call was made to 9111, but now the rescue has become a recovery.
Lopez, just like firefighter Bucio who was trying to save him, was also a father of boys almost the same age.
His friends tell NBC 5 he had recently come from Mexico to try to provide a better life for them.
"We hope we can find him in God's name," says Ponce. "So we can send him to Mexico and his family can see him one last time."