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Canoe capsizes in Des Plaines River in Riverside, pair swims to safety

“At this time of national crisis regarding COVID-19, it was not the time to be canoeing on the Des Plaines River,” Riverside police chief Tom Weitzel said.

Riverside police responded on March 29, 2020, to the 400 block of Fairbank Road for a capsized canoe.
Riverside police responded on March 29, 2020, to the 400 block of Fairbank Road for a capsized canoe.
Riverside Police Department

Two people from Lombard swam to safety Sunday after capsizing a canoe while paddling upstream in the Des Plaines River in Riverside.

Police responded about 2:50 p.m. to a 911 call for a tipped over canoe and two people in the water near the scout cabin in the 400 block of Fairbank Road, according to a statement from Riverside police.

The canoe had sunk to the bottom of the river, and the pair made it safely to the west bank of the river, police said. The boaters, a 26-year-old man and 23-year-old woman, refused medical attention.

In the statement, Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel said, “At this time of national crisis regarding COVID-19, it was not the time to be canoeing on the Des Plaines River.”

He said the pair were canoeing upstream, making progress difficult.

“While they were technically not in violation of the governor’s executive order, I think it is wise that citizens refrain from doing these types of activities at a time when we are trying to social distance from one another to stop the spread of coronavirus,” Weitzel said. “The individuals were advised to cease this activity in the future.”

Weitzel said the police and fire departments would leave the canoe at the bottom of the river until conditions improve.

On Sunday, a wind advisory from the National Weather Service warned of wind gusts up to 50 mph.