UPDATE: Naperville Man Dies in Effort to Save Boy at Geneva Dam
A Naperville man dies after attempting to save a 12-year-old caught in the undertow while fishing at the Geneva dam.
- Editor's note: This is an updated version of the original story. It reflects Randy Suchy's correct home town and age, according to various media reports in the Daily Herald and his obituary in the Chicago Tribune.
A Naperville man who dove into the water to save a 12-year-old has been pronounced dead at Delnor Hospital, police said.
Geneva Cmdr. Eric Passarelli, who at around 11:30 a.m. had entered the river to help rescue the man and the 12-year-old, reported the sad news at about 4:45 p.m.
The Naperville man is identified as Randy Suchy, 59.
Passarelli said Suchy had taken two 12-year-old boys from Bolingbrook on a fishing outing in Geneva. It is unconfirmed, but Suchy is believed to be the boyfriend of the mother of one of the boys.
"He was with the boys," Passarelli said. "It appears what happened is one boy got drawn into the undertow, and (Suchy) went in to retrieve him—that’s what we’re surmising."
A group of bicyclists riding on the path along the river spotted the man and the boy in the water and called 911.
"At first, the bicyclists thought they were swimming but quickly realized they needed help," Passarelli said. "Three of the bicyclists entered the river, and at about the same time, police and fire arrived and entered the river to help."
Passarelli said one of the bicyclists who attempted to rescue Suchy and the boy was Brian Beaird of Naperville. Two other bicyclists—identified by Patch as Neil Goltermann and Dan Pucci—went into the water, along with Geneva Police Chief Steve Mexin, Geneva Fire Chief Steve Olson, Passarelli, firefighter Chad Clark and Lt. Mark Einwich and were able to pull the boy and the adult to shore.
It was a small miracle that the rescuers were able to reach them.
"Probably a minute or two after they went in, they were kicked from the boil," Passarelli said. "That's extremely unusual and very lucky. You've been down there, and I'm sure you've seen beach balls and volleyballs in there sometimes for a week that never manage to get free. Today, somehow, it kicked them free."
Olson said rescuers didn't have time to wait for a rescue boat or additional equipment.
"We waded out there and grabbed the kid," Olson said. "I grabbed the 12-year-old, and we had to get him to shore quickly to start treatment. This all happened very fast."
Passarelli said none of the rescuers hesitated to go into the water.
"It's what we're trained to do," he said. "And when you see two victims that truly need help, you act.
"We’re very familiar with the river, but it’s still very easy to forget how deceptive it can be, how powerful it can be," he said. "There were several times you could feel the current buckling your knees."
Passarelli and Olson stressed that the rescue was a team effort and praised members of the fire and police departments for their response. Geneva, Batavia and St. Charles personnel were at the scene.
Goltermann, one of the bicyclists, suffered an injury to his foot.
"Neil didn't care about his well being and just went out there and saved that kid's life," Pucci said.
Rescue workers administered CPR to Suchy for about 20 minutes before he was put on a stretcher and taken by ambulance to Delnor.
Passarelli said the 12-year-old is in stable condition.
"I wish they both could have pulled through," he said. "We're lucky one did."
CORRECTION: The initial breaking-news report incorrectly said Goltermann was the man receiving CPR. Patch removed some comments to this story because links in the comments field went to the original version of the story rather than the updated one.