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updated: 6/20/2012 2:20 PM

Lake County man held in Gages Lake death

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  • Eric Oomens

    Eric Oomens

  • 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


A Lake County man is in jail on $250,000 bond in the death of a friend who slipped below the surface of Gages Lake while swimming, authorities said Wednesday.

Eric W. Oomens, 46, must post 10 percent of the bond in order to be released from Lake County jail. He is charged with failure to stop or render aid in an accident, collision, or casualty in the death of 44-year-old Richard Stoneking of Park City.

An autopsy done after Stoneking's body was pulled from the lake Tuesday afternoon showed no signs of trauma or violence, Lake County Coroner Artis Yancey said Wednesday. Officials are waiting for toxicology results before an official cause of death is released, Yancey said.

Stoneking and Oomens drove a pontoon boat to the center of Gages Lake about 9 p.m. Monday and decided to go for a swim, but the unanchored boat drifted away in the high winds, officials said.

The men attempted to swim to shore, but only Oomens made it to the docks. When he got out of the water, he told a bystander he was looking for a friend and then fled the area on foot, police said.

The bystander contacted authorities about 9:37 p.m. prompting Grayslake fire crews to begin searching the 40-foot deep lake.

The initial search was called off at 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, officials said, but a family member reported Stoneking missing a short time later, authorities said.

Divers returned to Gages Lake at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday to resume the search and pulled Stoneking's body out of the water about 3:18 p.m.

Authorities said Oomens was charged because he never contacted authorities about Stoneking and fled the scene when he arrived at shore.

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