Alcohol a factor in death of canoeist who tried to retrieve cat, police say

Updated 5/25/2015 9:39 PM

Authorities said Monday alcohol played a factor in the death of a man who left his canoe on Loon Lake near Antioch in an attempt to retrieve a cat that went overboard.

The man was identified as William A. Anderson, 46. His address was not known, police said.


Anderson and two friends, Richard A. Axtell, 45, and Lisa F. Gossard, 46, both of Antioch, were in the boat when the cat went overboard, authorities said. He entered the water and a Gossard did likewise, causing the canoe to tip, Lake County sheriff's police Sgt. Sara Balmes said.

She said someone in a pontoon boat rescued Axtell and Gossard. Anderson was able to save the cat, though, she added.

Balmes said there were safety vests on the canoe but they weren't used, and it is believed the occupants were drinking.

The accident happened about 7:45 p.m. Sunday. Authorities said Anderson's body was recovered about midnight.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is investigating the case, the sheriff's office said.

Undersheriff Raymond J. Rose encouraged safe behavior on the water this season.

"Regardless of your ability to swim, always wear a life jacket while participating in lake activities," Rose said. "We also recommend saving the consumption of alcoholic beverages until after lake activities have ended."

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