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Riverside police officer pulls teens from river after canoe overturns

Published: Sunday, March 30, 2014 3:41 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, March 31, 2014 12:29 a.m. CDT
(Photo provided)
Three teen boys from Riverside were pulled from the Des Plaines River on Friday after their canoe overturned.

RIVERSIDE – A Riverside police officer pulled three teen boys on spring break from the Des Plaines River after their canoe overturned Friday, according to a news release from the Riverside Police Department.

Officer Michael Panek was on patrol at 2:30 p.m., when he saw the trio struggling with a canoe in the river near Barrypoint and Fairbank roads, the release said. In the midst of the boys' efforts, the canoe tipped over.

Panek pulled the boys, who are all ages 13 to 14 and from Riverside, from the water, according to the release.

“You could see the fear in the kids' faces,” said Sgt. William Gutschick in the release. “Without Officer Panek's help, this situation could have easily ended in tragedy.”

Another nearby canoe held four boys of the same age from Riverside and North Riverside, according to the release.

The water in the area where the incident occurred is unpredictable, with large rocks, boulders and deep dropoffs, the release said. Average water temperatures for early spring are below 40 degrees, and in such conditions, hypothermia can impact the body in minutes.

The three boys were transported to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood as a precautionary measure, according to the release, where they were treated and released.

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