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ARDA-IL Searches for Missing Boater


Prepared by Chicago Regional Search and Rescue

January 2006

On October 14, 2005 Chicago Regional Search and Rescue (ARDA-IL) was activated by the Fox Lake Police department. The search was for the son of a lake resident who had been visiting his parents. A novice boater, he had gone out alone in a kayak and was last seen around 5:30 PM near some uninhabited islands. A strong wind had come up shortly after that and the next day his kayak, personal floatation device and paddle were found scattered on the shoreline across the lake from the point last seen.

Another local group was also activated. They concentrated their search efforts on the water and worked from boats while Chicago Regional searched the land masses and shoreline. The subject's parents believed he was a strong swimmer capable of making it to the uninhabited islands. One Chicago Regional dog and handler team was dispatched to the smaller uninhabited island and another was sent to search the shoreline and out buildings where the kayak and equipment had been found.

Two more of the team's dogs and handlers were dispatched to the largest island which contained seasonal residences. Almost immediately, one of the dogs entered the water swimming in a straight line for approximately 30 feet and then returned to the handler to give her trained indication. No other indications of the subject's location were found on the islands and the dogs and handlers redeployed to help with the shoreline search. Wind conditions were poor and swirling. At one point when the wind switched, the dog who had indicated previously again showed interest toward the water.

Both teams returned to base and marked indications on the master map. The dogs in the boat gave indications along the line drawn between the two land alerts. Using knowledge of the currents and levels of interest shown by the dogs, the teams jointly agreed on the most probable location of the subject.

The next day was the start of duck hunting season. This lake was ringed by blinds and authorities suspended the search for safety reasons. Two days later the body surfaced in the area indicated by the dogs.

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