Police ID homeless Elgin man pulled from Fox River
Elgin emergency responders pulled the body of 52-year-old Roberto C. Hernandez from the Fox River Tuesday morning and the early belief is that there was no foul play involved in his death, according to officials.
Police Cmdr. Glenn Theriault said Hernandez was a homeless man who has lived in Elgin. His daughter reported him missing to the Elgin Police Department Monday.
Two men were fishing in the river between Festival Park and the Grand Victoria Casino Tuesday morning when the hook from one of their poles snagged on something.
James Miller said his friend pulled hard on his fishing pole but thought his hook might be caught on a body when bubbles rose to the surface. The fisherman, who declined to comment for this story, walked down to the casino to call police, Miller said.
Elgin Fire Department Batallion Chief Bryan McMahan said the call came in at 11:20 a.m., at which time the fire department responded along with Elgin and South Elgin dive teams. No one had to get into the water because the body was found so close to shore, McMahan said.
Elgin police also responded, and the Kane County Coroner arrived shortly after 12:30 p.m. to continue the death investigation.
Theriault said Hernandez was identified by a family member on the scene. Though the early investigation into his death found no clear trauma that would indicate foul play, the coroner's office will continue to explore the cause of death, Theriault said. He added that the body was probably in the river no more than a couple of days, but said that is another component of the coroner's office investigation.
Miller said he fishes in the Fox River at least once a week, a habit he might avoid considering the events of the morning.
"Catch something like that makes you want to stop fishing," Miller said.
Bill Jones, president of the Elgin chapter of the Izaak Walton League, stopped by the police scene Tuesday, wondering if he knew the man involved. Jones and other Izaak Walton volunteers have been working to clean up the river from National Street all the way to the Route 20 bypass since May. During the cleanup, Jones has come to know several of the homeless people who live along the river.
Pointing to the alcoholism from which many suffer, Jones mourned the lack of treatment options for those who need it.
"They've just got a bad illness," Jones said.
Police cleared the scene just before 1 p.m. Tuesday after the coroner's office took away Hernandez's body.
Daily Herald staff writer Elena Ferrarin contributed to this report.