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updated: 6/19/2012 11:14 PM

Friend charged after body found in Gages Lake

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  • Divers search for a 44-year-old man who was reported missing on Gages Lake on Tuesday.

       Divers search for a 44-year-old man who was reported missing on Gages Lake on Tuesday.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Eric Oomens

      Eric Oomens

  • Divers search for a missing swimmer on Gages Lake Tuesday morning near Grayslake.

       Divers search for a missing swimmer on Gages Lake Tuesday morning near Grayslake.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Rescue crews set up along Sears Boulevard near Grayslake Tuesday morning to search for a missing swimmer on Gages Lake.

       Rescue crews set up along Sears Boulevard near Grayslake Tuesday morning to search for a missing swimmer on Gages Lake.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Boats carrying divers head to the search area to look for a missing swimmer on Gages Lake Tuesday near Grayslake.

       Boats carrying divers head to the search area to look for a missing swimmer on Gages Lake Tuesday near Grayslake.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

  • Video: Divers look for missing boater

 
 

The friend who was swimming with a 44-year-old whose body was found in Gages Lake Tuesday afternoon has been charged in connection with his drowning, according to police.

Divers from area rescue departments recovered the body of Richard Stoneking of Park City in water more than 40 feet deep Tuesday afternoon, about 18 hours after he jumped off a pontoon boat in Gages Lake, officials said.

Stoneking and his friend Eric W. Oomens, 46, whose hometown was not yet known, drove a pontoon boat to swim near the center of Gages Lake at about 9 p.m. Monday, but the unanchored boat drifted from the men in the high winds, said Lake County sheriff's spokeswoman Sgt. Karen Kates.

The men were stranded and only Oomens was able to make it to shore, police said. When Oomens got out of the water, he told a bystander that he was looking for a friend and then fled the area on foot, according to police.

The bystander contacted authorities at about 9:37 p.m. A Grayslake fire crew conducted a boat search, while the Lake County sheriff's office attempted to locate Oomens, but the search was called off at 12:30 a.m., according to police

Shortly after crews called off the search, a family member reported Stoneking missing, police said.

Oomens was charged with failure to stop or comply with requirements involving an accident, collision, or casualty duty to report and render aid. He was arrested Wednesday night.

Oomens never contacted authorities about the missing man, which is the reason for the felony charge against him, Kates said.

"It is because of his lack of action," she said.

Divers returned to the lake at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday when they switched from search and rescue to recovery mode, said Grayslake Fire Protection District Fire Chief John Christian. The boat drifted back to shore early Tuesday morning, and Stoneking's body was recovered at 3:18 p.m., officials said.

At one point during the search roughly 20 fire and rescue dive trucks were parked on the shores of Gages Lake. Meanwhile, four rescue boats equipped with side-scan sonar were in the water near the swimmer's last known location.

Christian said Stoneking was part of a group of friends and family members who had been boating on the lake throughout the day Monday on the pontoon.

Those friends and family members congregated at Pebble Beach on Sears Boulevard, just east of Route 45, to watch the recovery effort.

Lake and McHenry County Fire Departments Specialized Response Team divers worked to find the body, Kates said. She said divers had to be rotated more often than usual because of Tuesday's extreme heat.

• Daily Herald staff writer Bob Susnjara contributed to this report.

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