Boy, 7, who drowned after boat capsized in Chicago River near Chinatown ID'd

ByCate Cauguiran, Jessica D'Onofrio, and Alexis McAdams via WLS logo
Friday, July 24, 2020
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A 7-year-old boy drowned after the boat he was on capsized on the Chicago River near Chinatown Wednesday night, police said.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A 7-year-old boy drowned after the boat he was on capsized on the Chicago River near Chinatown Wednesday night, police said.

According to police, a boat capsized around 6:40 the 1500-block of South Lumber Street and drifted three blocks down to 18th Street before first responders were able to rescue the occupants.

Chicago officials said the vessel overturned when a cargo boat passed by, creating waves.

Authorities said that wake caused it to capsize, trapping 7-year-old Victor Lobato from the Little Village neighborhood, underneath. Cargo boats pass through the Chicago River on a daily basis, creating small waves as they go by.

"The helicopter divers that went into the water were able to retrieve the one child that was underneath the capsized boat," said Chicago Fire Department Chief Patrick Maloney.

Lobato was traveling in the boat with his family when he drowned Thursday, officials said.

Lobato was wearing a life vest when he was on the boat, but Chicago fire officials said he was not wearing the vest when they pulled him out of the water.

The fire department said nine people in total were on the capsized boat, including four children.

The incident occurred in an area hard for rescue crews to access.

"If you look down the river the accessibility of where we actually found the victim versus where we retrieved everyone else. We're talking almost three blocks down river," said CFD Deputy District Chief Carmelita Wiley-Earls.

Five people were treated at area hospitals.

The hull number on the boat traces back to Indiana. State officials there said the boat's registration expired six years ago.

An investigation into the accident is ongoing.

Fire officials said it was thanks to the help of the people who called 911, they were able to respond quickly.

"Without the public's input and without the public's initially 911 sounding of the alarm then we would have a different outcome," Wiley-Earls said.

The river is around 20 to 30 feet deep in the area where the boat capsized.

Fire officials said regardless of social distancing regulations, all boaters should be mindful not to overload a boat as it increases the danger of that craft overturning.

Fire officials said this is the fourth or fifth incident involving water rescues just this week and reiterated that everyone onboard a boat should wear life jackets, especially children, and practice safe boating.