Lake County man pleads guilty to not reporting friend missing on Gages Lake
A Lake County man pleaded guilty Tuesday to failing to report that a friend had disappeared and was later found drowned in Gages Lake while swimming in June.
Eric Oomens, 46, of unincorporated Lake County near Grayslake, pleaded guilty to a single count of attempted obstruction of justice in front of Lake County Judge Raymond Collins.
Oomens was sentenced to one year of probation following the guilty plea, along with a $200 fine, and nearly $3,000 in court costs.
As part of his sentence, Oomens is not allowed to operate a water craft for one year and must participate in any alcohol and drug treatment programs required by his probation officer. He must also perform 100 hours of community service and pay $1,000 to the Grayslake Fire and Rescue Department for the costs associated with a June 18 water rescue.
Attorneys for both sides refused to comment about the plea deal following Tuesday's hearing.
Oomens was initially charged with failure to render aid in an accident, collision or casualty following the drowning of 44-year-old Richard Stoneking of Park City. Oomens could have gone to prison for up to three years if convicted on the felony charge.
Authorities said Stoneking and Oomens drove a pontoon boat to the center of Gages Lake about 9 p.m. and went for a swim. However, the boat was not anchored and drifted away in high winds, forcing both men to try and swim to shore.
Only Oomens made it back to the docks, authorities said, and when he got out of the water, he fled the area after telling a bystander he was looking for a friend.
That bystander called police, authorities said, prompting a 24-hour search of the 40-foot deep lake that resulted in the recovery of Stoneking's body the next day.
Lake County Sheriff officials said Oomens was charged because he never contacted authorities about Stoneking and fled the scene after arriving on shore.
Oomens was free on bail while working on the plea deal after posting 10 percent of his $250,000 bond. That money will be refunded to him after all court fines and fees are taken out, Collins said in court Tuesday.
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