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Body recovered near Belmont Harbor identified as missing man

Chicago Police Marine Unit search for missing 28 year old Phillip Patnaude of Chicago in Belmont Harbor Monday, March 5, 2012. | John H. White~Chicago Sun-Times.

Philip Patnaude possessed a nimble, curious mind, and he was madly in love with the woman he planned to marry in the fall, his family said Monday.

The 28-year-old Lake View man had everything to live for, which was why his apparent drowning death near Belmont Harbor was surely an accident, his family said.

“I would assume it was not the first time he went for a bit of a walk along the lake at night,” said Patnaude’s older brother, Art Patnaude, describing his sibling as someone who cherished the outdoors and using alone time to “gather his thoughts.”

The Chicago Police Marine Unit pulled Patnaude’s body from the water near the harbor Monday morning, according to the medical examiner’s office. Patnaude had been missing since early Saturday morning.

Patnaude was identified by photographs in the wallet found on his body, investigators said. He showed no obvious signs of trauma. An autopsy is scheduled for Tuesday.

Family and friends of the missing man feared he may have drowned after his jacket was pulled from the harbor Sunday.

Patnaude was last seen 2:30 a.m. Saturday by pals at the intersection of Wellington and Broadway after a night of drinking.

Dozens of friends and relatives searched for the blonde, 6-foot-1, 175-pound Patnaude Sunday in neighborhoods surrounding the home he shared with his fiancee in the 3200 block of North Ashland. They endured an agonizing wait after his black ski jacket was found in the harbor.

Patnaude’s best friend, Kevin Callaghan, flew in from San Francisco to help in the search. Patnaude attended the University of Illinois, worked as a fossil fuels engineer for Sargent & Lundy LLC in Chicago and had been with his fiancee, Selena Nanthavong, since they met in college, his family said.

The wedding was planned for October in Chicago, said Art Patnaude, who was to be his brother’s best man.

“He was head over heels in love with his fiancee,” said Patnaude, 30, a journalist based in London. “They’d known each other for many years, but when you’d see them around each other, it was almost like they’d [just] met – that real intense love.”

Art Patnaude described his brother as a brilliant, gregarious young man.

“He had a kind of innate ability to look deep into mathematical issues, but was also the most social guy in the world,” Patnaude said.

Philip Patnaude was born in Toledo, Ohio, but grew up in Downers Grove, where his parents still live, his brother said.

Patnaude had a pilot’s license and loved outdoor sports, his aunt Barbara Moore said, adding that her nephew was in good spirits. “He’s a happy, very positive guy.”