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Joliet siblings drown in Kankakee River on Memorial Day

A Memorial Day outing near the Kankakee River in Wilmington led to the deaths of a 13-year-old Joliet girl and her 12-year-old brother.

Abigail Arroyo was pronounced dead at 7:14 p.m. Monday, May 30 at Presence St. Joseph Medical Center, according to the Will County Coroner’s Office. The girl was unconscious when first responders retrieved her from the river near South Island Park. She was transported for medical treatment but later died as a result of her injuries.

Eder Arroyo was pronounced dead at 12:25 p.m. Wednesday, June 1, according to the Will County Coroner’s Office. Rescue efforts for the 12-year-old boy continued for the next two days, only stopping due to nightfall, Wilmington Deputy Fire Chief Todd Friddle said. His body was found 3.5 miles from the initial search area.

On the day of the incident, first responders received a call for assistance just before 6 p.m. to South Island Park and reported to the scene only minutes later, after the two children wandered into the water and got pulled into the roller current of a nearby dam, according to a Wilmington Police Department news release. Around that time, two bystanders were on hand to provide assistance to the children, but needed rescuing as well.

Of the two Good Samaritans, one was transported to Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox, where he was admitted in critical condition, according to a Wilmington Police Department news release. The other bystander declined treatment, Wilmington Police Chief Phillip Arnold said.

Friddle said there has been communication between the city and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources regarding safety issues near the Wilmington dam.

“There’s actually an extensive history of people drowning at that dam,” he added.

Wilmington City Administrator Tony Graff said officials continue to review and discuss the public safety concerns posed along the river.

“We are open to ideas,” he said. “There has been discussion of signage, fencing and even a phone box.”

There are no existing phone boxes near the Kankakee River in Wilmington.

The Wilmington City Council is expected to hold a special meeting June 9 to vote on whether to purchase and install these mechanisms.


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