Wrongful death lawsuit in 2011 drowning at Geneva dam

Relatives of a Naperville man who died last August saving a child from drowning near a dam along the Fox River in Geneva has sued the city for wrongful death, arguing the city knew about the dangers posed by the lowhead dam but did not do enough to restrict access to that area.

Randy Suchy, 59, died Aug. 5, 2011, saving a 12-year-old boy who slipped and fell into the water during a church outing.

The Bolingbrook boy was rescued, but Suchy was caught in the boil for several minutes despite rescuers' efforts to save him.

“He gave his life to save that boy. This whole thing should have never happened,” said attorney David Wise.

Wise filed the lawsuit in Kane County on behalf of Suchy's brother, William, a West Chicago man who also has spoken out about the dangers posed by the dam area.

The suit demands a jury trial and is seeking unspecified damages.

In the suit, Wise argues that the city should be held liable for wrongful death and failure to monitor the area, which has warning signs but is not roped off.

“The city of Geneva knew that children or adults who came into the water at the downstream side of the Geneva dam could be killed. At all times relevant and for many years prior to Aug. 5, 2011, the city of Geneva knew it was unsafe and potentially lethal for children and adults to be on land in close proximity to the water and the downstream side of the Geneva dam,” part of the suit states.

The low-head dam had been considered for removal or safety improvements after an Illinois Department of Natural Resources study was released in 2007. But the state never made a decision about what to do with it.

A phone message left at Geneva city hall seeking comment was not immediately returned Tuesday, nor was a message left for the state's Department of Natural Resources.

“People should be nowhere near that dam. They're lethal. Geneva knows this,” Wise said. “They're going to keep having accidents like this. If you allow people to get close like that, people are going to keep getting killed.”

Both sides are due in court on Aug. 9.

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