Geneva Monday honored those who risked their lives trying to rescue two people drowning in the Fox River.
At the Geneva City Council meeting, Geneva Fire Chief Steve Olson presented commendations to seven men — bicyclists on the Fox River Trail — who jumped in to action Aug. 5 when they saw two people caught in the boil of the Geneva dam.
They were unable to save one man, but helped rescue a 12-year-old boy.
“What is so unusual in today’s world is they put their safety aside, then entered the water to assist people in need,” Olson said.
“I felt it was important to the community ... to recognize these gentlemen, because their actions made the efforts of our responding personnel that much more effective.”
Those honored were the Rev. Clint Roberts, Larry Gerner, Gary McGregor, Dan Pucci, Brian Beaird and Neil Gottermann of Naperville, and Dion Powell of Geneva.
The men were on a trip organized by Knox Presbyterian Church of Naperville. Roberts recognized the people in the river — Randy Suchy of Naperville, and his girlfriend’s son — were in trouble because he once nearly drowned at a dam.
Suchy jumped in to the river to try to save the boy, who had fallen in.
The boil eventually spit Suchy and the boy out, and the men and Geneva rescuers snagged them and started CPR while bringing them to shore.
Suchy did not survive.
One of the bicyclists, who had removed his shoes, suffered severe cuts to the bottom of his feet, caused by rocks and debris in the river.
The council also honored the firefighters and police officers who tried to rescue and revive the victims, and tried to remove a second boy from some rocks on which the trio had been standing.
The firefighters and police officers refused to be recognized individually, preferring to be honored as a team, Mayor Kevin Burns said.
Roberts praised them. “We watched you guys go in to action on that Friday, and I think you guys are superlative. You were right there and you gave it everything you have,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bill Suchy of West Chicago, Randy Suchy’s brother, is speaking up about the dangers of the dam.
In interviews recently with the Daily Herald, he spoke of how he has visited the dam since the tragedy and how he believes more could be done to warn people.
“I never really knew how dangerous they (lowhead dams) were,” he said. He wants more warning signs and barriers. “There’s no roping or anything. It is really disturbing to me,” he said.
There are signs on either side of the dam, but none downstream at Old Mill Park, where people can easily wade in to the river.
Geneva law prohibits people from fishing or swimming within 50 feet of the dam. Fishermen often fish between the dam and the State Street bridge, and Suchy said he has seen people bring young children in to the river.
Even the afternoon of the drowning, when Bill Suchy returned to the river to pick up his brother’s car, people were back in the water, close to the dam.
“People were just down there playing like nothing ever happened,” he said.Copyright © 2014 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.