Bodies Of 2 People Missing After Boat Accident Found In Ill. Lake; Search Continues For Child

Thursday, March 15th 2007, 7:37 pm
By: News On 6

CLINTON, Ill. (AP) _ The bodies of two boaters missing after a boating accident were found Thursday in a spillway below Clinton Lake, and searchers still were looking for an 8-year-old boy, state officials said.

Richard L. Hunter, 59, of Normal, and his son, Jason C. Hunter, 29, were found in the roiling water at the base of the spillway, said Illinois Department of Natural Resources spokeswoman Kim Knight. The boy, an 8-year-old relative of the two, still was missing.

It was still unclear what caused the accident. One of the boaters had called 911 from Clinton Lake on Wednesday evening to report that the group was in trouble, county Sheriff Roger Massey said.

Pieces of the boat and debris were found Thursday in Salt Creek, about 60 feet below the spillway of the 5,000-acre reservoir in central Illinois. Knight said it was raining and dark around time of the call, and said the men might not have been able to see the spillway.

Greg Forrest, who manages the Clinton Lake Marina, said the lake is higher than normal because of melting snow and ice, which can strengthen currents near the spillway. The wind was stiff at the time of the accident, meteorologists said.

Richard Hunter recently had bought the boat so he and his son could go fishing together, according to Peyton Harris, his brother-in-law.

``He was just out testing the boat, giving it a little run,'' Harris said outside a family home in Normal. ``He's been fishing for years.''

The lake was the site of the 2003 drowning deaths of three young children trapped in a car when it rolled off a boat ramp and sank in about four feet of water. The children's mother, Amanda Hamm, now 30, was convicted of child endangerment, and her then-boyfriend, Maurice LaGrone Jr., was convicted of first-degree murder; both are behind bars.