Days before 9-year-old's birthday, family learns his body was recovered from Bangs Lake

  • Geraldo Rodriguez, 9, of Wauconda drowned Friday night in a boating accident in Bangs Lake.

    Geraldo Rodriguez, 9, of Wauconda drowned Friday night in a boating accident in Bangs Lake.

  • People who knew 9-year-old Geraldo Rodriguez gathered at Transfiguration Catholic Church in Wauconda for a prayer vigil Saturday after Rodriguez drowned in Bangs Lake Friday night.

      People who knew 9-year-old Geraldo Rodriguez gathered at Transfiguration Catholic Church in Wauconda for a prayer vigil Saturday after Rodriguez drowned in Bangs Lake Friday night. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

  • A rescue boat searches for a missing 9-year-old boy who fell into Bangs Lake in Wauconda Friday evening. He was found about noon Saturday. The lake has been closed as public safety officials worked on recovery efforts.

      A rescue boat searches for a missing 9-year-old boy who fell into Bangs Lake in Wauconda Friday evening. He was found about noon Saturday. The lake has been closed as public safety officials worked on recovery efforts. Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer

 
 
Editor's note: This story was updated to say fire officials say Geraldo Rodriguez's birthday would have been Wednesday despite other earlier reports of a Sunday birthday.

The body of a 9-year-old Wauconda boy was recovered Saturday in Bangs Lake in Wauconda after an extensive search of the water by rescue workers.

Wauconda Fire District officials said Geraldo Rodriguez's body was located about noon Saturday by trained rescue personnel using sonar.

Rodriguez and an 11-year-old boy were on a paddleboat in the lake Friday evening and became distressed. Both boys went into the water at about 7:20 p.m., but nearby fishermen were able to locate only the 11-year-old, fire officials said.

Scores of rescue personnel from nearly two dozen departments were called to the lake Friday, including divers and sonar technicians who worked until 3 a.m. to try to find the missing boy.

Wauconda Fire District Chief David Geary said rescuers struggled with the decision to halt the recovery efforts but ultimately decided they would be hampered by lighting and weather conditions.

The recovery efforts were called off until about 9 a.m. Saturday when officials restarted the search and closed the lake off to the public. Police also used a drone to try to find the boy, but to no avail.

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Family members kept vigil near the lake Saturday.

"We haven't slept; none of us have slept. We were driving around last night just looking on the shore, hoping that he's out there somewhere and we were going to find him," the boy's aunt Angi Bakewell told ABC 7 Chicago.

Bakewell said a birthday party was scheduled for him Saturday. Fire officials said his 10th birthday would have been Wednesday.

"Today was supposed to be his birthday party," Bakewell said. "We were supposed to be celebrating his birthday party today. It was just an accident."

Fire officials said the boy's body was recovered near the center of the lake after high winds and waves likely pulled him there when he fell into the water closer to the northeastern shore of Bangs Lake.

"While we are saddened by this loss of a community member, both the fire district and police department are grateful to provide closure to the family of Geraldo," Geary said.

A prayer gathering for the Rodriguez family was held Saturday afternoon at Transfiguration Catholic Church in Wauconda. And the family has started a GoFundMe page to raise money for funeral expenses.

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