Missing Antioch man found dead in Des Plaines River died from drowning, Lake County coroner says

Thomas 'Tommy' Howe last seen walking into Libertyville forest preserve, witnesses say
ANTIOCH, Ill. (WLS) -- An Antioch man whose body was found in the Des Plaines River died from drowning, the Lake County Coroner's Office said Wednesday.

Police said Thomas "Tommy" Howe was in a crash on I-94 near Route 176 in Libertyville just before 11 a.m. on Jan. 22.

Village officials said last Friday a kayaker in the Des Plaines River saw a jacket on the shoreline that matched the description of the jacket Howe was last seen wearing.

A search conducted by K9 units and fire department dive teams on Friday and Saturday did not turn up anything, and efforts had to be suspended until Tuesday due to unfavorable conditions.

Tuesday afternoon, another round of searchers discovered a body. Officials said "circumstances and evidence found at the scene" led them to preliminarily identify the body as Howe's.

Wednesday afternoon, the Lake County Coroner's Office said it conducted an autopsy, which found Howe had signs consistent with drowning.

"We have been with the Howe family throughout their search for Tommy," said Antioch Police Chief Geoffrey Guttschow. "This is a devastating time for them. The family will continue to be in our prayers."

Howe's family said he was on his way home to Antioch from Chicago at the time of the crash to visit family, but he never arrived.

Witnesses told police they saw Howe leave the scene of the crash and enter Old School Forest Preserve in Libertyville.

His parents said they have no idea why Howe walked away from the crash or where he might have been going. They believe their son may have had a head injury. Police said his car was found after the crash with airbags deployed.

Two days after the crash, Howe's work cellphone was found in the Old School Forest Preserve, but nothing else was found.
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