Man, woman pulled from Cal-Sag channel identified - FOX 13 News

Man, woman pulled from Cal-Sag channel identified

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(Darius Norvilas/Flickr) (Darius Norvilas/Flickr)
PALOS HEIGHTS, Ill. (Sun-Times Media Wire) -

Two people found in the Calumet-Saganashkee Channel Saturday have been identified.

Jeremy Muzika, 33, and Viengsavnh Bielarz, 40, were recovered from the water about 1:15 p.m. Saturday, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office and the U.S. Coast Guard. Neither was wearing a life jacket, according to the Coast Guard.

Both died of drowning and multiple injuries from a boat striking a barge, an autopsy found Sunday. The deaths were ruled accidents.

Teams from the Coast Guard, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources and other authorities began a search around 11 p.m. Friday after a 66-foot towing vessel collided with a smaller boat on the Cal-Sag, near mile marker 311.

While the exact cause of the collision remains under investigation, a 19-foot boat was found capsized with significant damage, Chris Young, a spokesman for the state Department of Natural Resources said Sunday.

Authorities continued to search Sunday for a third boater Sunday, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

Authorities were using sonar to search for victims on Saturday. But on Sunday, search efforts were hampered. Powerful Saturday storms stirred up the channel, preventing two Illinois Conservation Police search teams from using sonar.

The Coast Guard indicated there is little hope of recovering that person alive.

“The decision to shift from search-and-rescue to recovery is one of the most difficult decisions imaginable,” said Capt. Amy Cocanour, commanding officer of Coast Guard Sector Lake Michigan. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of everyone involved.”

Authorities initially feared a fourth victim may have gone overboard. But they later were able to contact that person, a woman who told investigators she decided not to go on the outing, according to the DNR, which is now handling the investigation.

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