Police rescued teenagers on spring break from overturned canoe

Police rescued teenagers on spring break from overturned canoe

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RIVERSIDE, Ill. (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Seven teenagers on spring break found themselves in deep water when three of them fell in the Des Plaines River while canoeing Friday.

About 2:30 p.m. Friday, Riverside Police Officer Michael Panek saw seven teenagers— all aged 13 or 14 — in two canoes in the Des Plaines River near the old Hoffman Dam at Barrypoint and Fairbank roads, according to a statement from the Riverside Police Department. The boys were from Riverside and North Riverside.

Three boys in one of the canoes were struggling to get the boat to shore when the canoe got stuck, police said. When the teenagers tried to free it, it overturned and the boys fell in.

The officer went out onto the dam and pulled the boys out of the water to safety, police said.

Average water temperatures for early spring are below 40 degrees, meaning hypothermia can affect people in minutes, according to police. The water is "unpredictable," with many rocks and boulders right beneath the waterline, as well as deep drop offs, police said.

"You could see the fear in the kids' faces," Sergeant William Gutschick, who responded to the scene, said in the statement. "Without Officer Panek's help, this situation could have easily ended in tragedy."

The three boys that fell in the water were transported to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood as a precautionary measure, police said. They have since been released.

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