Illinois drowning victim's body recovered

Lee County Sheriff's equipment locates 69-year-old fisherman


NAUVOO –  The body of an Illinois man has been recovered from the Mississippi River.

Hancock County Sheriff Travis Duffy said Ronald McVeigh, 69, of rural Nauvoo, was pronounced dead after being discovered by rescue personnel Wednesday morning.

Duffy said McVeigh was about 75 yards off shore near Camp Eastman Drive when, for some unknown reason, he fell into about six feet of water.

A passing motorist saw him in the water and called 911 for help. Duffy said when the motorist got turned around and back to the scene, McVeigh was not visible.

“He went out to check his trotlines in a canoe and for some reason, we don’t know why, he fell out of the boat into about five or six feet of water and drowned,” Duffy said.

He said a life preserver was in the canoe, but no floatation device was on McVeigh when he was recovered.

“Yeah, he had one in the boat. Didn’t have it on," Duffy said.

The initial call came in at about 9:20 a.m. Tuesday and Duffy said he contacted Illinois DNR and the Lee County Sheriff’s Department. Volunteers from Quincy showed up Tuesday evening and kept searching past 1 a.m. Wednesday morning.

“Everybody got back on scene this morning. It took about hour and a half before Lee County found him with the sonar in their boat,” Duffy said.

He said the river was choppy Tuesday and Wednesday and that hindered search and rescue efforts both days.

Lee County Sheriff Stacy Weber called deputies and the county’s dive team to the scene and they dispatched the department’s rescue boat and the dive team to search for McVeigh.

Jail Administrator John Canida drove the boat both days.

“John and I were on the boat and he spotted him with our sonar. We made a couple passes back and then they were able to pull him up,” Weber said.

“The boat and the sidescan sonar both worked great. The current was tough, but today the water was clearer. FMPD detective Bryson Hennigar was part of the LCSO rescue dive team when it was initially formed, and joined LCSO Detective Clint Wray in the search.

“We were just assisting Hancock County in this one,” Weber said.

“But as soon as the body was recovered, we called the families over here who lost loved ones that started the effort to get us a rescue boat. They were very proud.”

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