Emergency personnel rescued one boater and found the body of another after their separate personal watercraft went over the Milan Steel Dam on the Rock River about 4:30 p.m. Sunday.
“When we got here, we found out that the watercraft had gone over the steel dam,” said Deputy Chief Ike Sederstrom of the Moline Fire Department.
The man, who was rescued about 6:10 p.m., was taken to a hospital in good condition, said Moline Fire Battalion Chief Paul Hoffeditz. The man was holding on to a log in the “boil,” or the churned-up water just past the rollers, he said.
"That's the only thing that kept him going," Hoffeditz said. "He was hanging on for dear life."
A Rock Island Arsenal crew came upstream with their boat. "They launched from the arsenal, and came down the Mississippi past the mouth of the Rock," he said. "We needed a boat downstream," Hoffeditz said. "You can't pull a person over the dam, because they'd be ripped from limb to limb."
Emergency crews first planned to pull the man free of the boil downstream, but the arsenal boat couldn't get into position for that because of the height of the water and their boat. Emergency workers on that boat could see the other man's body, still with its personal flotation device.
Crews then used the Backwater Gamblers boat, using a 300-foot section of rope and tying multiple buoyancy devices to it. The rescue rope was guided to the survivor.
"We floated the buoyancy devices and the rope down to him," Hoffeditz said.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police continues to investigate the incident, Hoffeditz said. A Medforce helicopter helped with the rescue to sweep the area, he said.
The original emergency call came into the Milan Police Department, which dispatched the Blackhawk Fire Protection District, which then called Moline for assistance.