Palatine police mourn officer who drowned in Lake County
Palatine police are mourning the death of a 21-year department veteran known for his bravery and selflessness who drowned while swimming in Petite Lake in Lake Villa.
Officer Victor Lopez, 49, of Round Lake Beach received a number of citations and recognitions for his service to the Palatine community, including a Life Saving Award in 2007.
"Officer 'Vic' Lopez will be truly missed by the members of the Palatine Police Department," said a statement released by the department Monday. "A memorial service is currently being planned for Officer Lopez and details are unknown at this time."
Lopez had been swimming in an area of Petite Lake known as "The Sandbar" late Friday afternoon when friends lost sight of him. They later found him underwater and unconscious near their boat, Lake County sheriff's police said.
Despite lifesaving attempts by his friends, rescue personnel and the staff at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville, Lopez was pronounced dead at 7:50 p.m. Friday.
An autopsy conducted Sunday determined Lopez drowned, Lake County Coroner Howard Cooper said.
Toxicology results, expected to take about three weeks, are pending, Cooper said.
Sgt. Christopher Covelli of the Lake County sheriff's office said no foul play is suspected, but investigators continue to seek statements from witnesses and possible surveillance video from nearby houses to document what happened as thoroughly as possible.
Lopez received his department's Life Saving Award for actions taken in August 2007 when he saved a distraught teenager attempting to take his own life. While speaking to Lopez, the teenager produced a large knife and held it to his own neck, ultimately cutting himself.
"Officer Lopez's quick actions and lifesaving measures saved the teen's life," the department's statement said.
Lopez again was commended for his bravery and lifesaving efforts in June 2019, when a vehicle crashed into a building and ignited.
"At his own personal risk, Officer Lopez entered the burning vehicle and assisted in extricating the driver," department officials said.
Before his service with the Palatine Police Department began in June of 1999, Lopez had graduated from Western Illinois University, entered the Army and attained the rank of first lieutenant with the military police.
Lopez spent a short time as a police and fire dispatcher with CenCom 9-1-1 before his appointment to the Palatine Police Department, officials said.
Respected by colleagues and civilians, Lopez held a number of different positions within the department, including as a field training officer, juvenile officer and school resource officer.
Lopez completed two multiyear assignments as school resource officer of Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211's Academy North from 2008 to 2011 and again from 2015 to 2017.
"During his time at the school, Officer Lopez made great connections with the students and staff," Palatine police officials said. "His positive work attitude and calming demeanor was an asset while working in a school environment which garnered him high praise from the school's administration."