(WGN-AM)- After looking about 3½ hours Sunday morning for a man who fell into the Des Plaines River on Saturday, officials postponed the search after water conditions were deemed too hazardous.
Wheeling Fire Department officials and Cook County Forest Preserve police combed the shoreline without finding the man and plan to continue searching Monday, said Steven Mayberry, a spokesman for the forest preserve police.
Wheeling fire department Lt. Steve Mella said his department called off the search today and was not able to send in divers because of the rising levels of the river and the amounts of debris in the water from the recent storms.
Fire department personnel search for a man reported missing in the Des Plaines River. (For the Tribune / Dave Shields)
Mella said today teams searched more than a 1½-mile stretch of the river and used sonar equipment and foot searches. Their main focus was south of the dam near the unincorporated section of Wheeling.
Officials were not hopeful.
"Overhead dams like this are called drowning machines, they're extremely dangerous. You get the hydraulic effect, which pulls people in,'' said Mella.
The man, identified as Gavino Alvarez-Diego from nearby Prospect Heights, fell into the river while walking with another man alongside it near Milwaukee Avenue and Hintz Road about 5:30 p.m., Mayberry said.
Officials said Alvarez-Diego lived in Prospect Heights for about two years and has a wife and children in Mexico.
Authorities had searched Saturday for a man until darkness caused them to delay the effort overnight.
A number of witnesses saw Alvarez-Diego fall in, Mayberry added.
The search effort included Wheeling Fire Department personnel in boats that were stationed in the river near Milwaukee and Hintz, and a Cook County sheriff's police helicopter.
Alvarez-Diego, 34 or 35, apparently was attending a picnic with the other man near the east side of the river and went into the water just north of a dam, Mayberry said.
"Witnesses saw [Alvarez-Diego] pop up in the water" before going back under, south of the dam, Mayberry said.
(The Chicago Tribune contributed to this story)
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