CHICAGO (WBBM) – A baby boy who died after he was pulled from Lake Michigan Thursday afternoon has been identified as a 14-month-old boy who had been reported missing.
Chicago Fire Department spokesman Larry Langford said a recreational boater found the boy’s body about 3 miles offshore near the 68th Street water intake crib at about 2 p.m. Thursday.
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Langford said the boater thought at first it was a doll floating in the water. The boaters called 911 and a police marine unit met the boat on the lake, then took the baby to the shore and handed the boy over to paramedics.
An ambulance took the boy to the University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital in extremely critical condition. Newsradio 780’s Steve Miller reports he was later pronounced dead at 3:45 p.m. and identified as 14-month-old Dontrell Johnson, who had been reported missing.
CBS 2’s Dana Kozlov reports that Jackson Harbor Yacht Club employees said rescue crews and the boaters did everything they could to save the child.
“From talking to them, it seemed like they knew it was a child right away, that it wasn’t garbage or anything in the water. And they fished him out with a fishing net, I believe … and felt the child was deceased,” Johann Hudsen said. “That has to be horrible. You know, I imagine that he’s going to be pretty shaken up about it for a while.”
CBS 2’s Mai Martinez reports that Dontrell’s father had picked him up on Monday for a visit and was supposed to return home to his mother, Regina Quarles, on Thursday, but on Wednesday, the father started making disturbing phone calls to Quarles.
The father threatened to kill the baby and himself, so Quarles called police. Police arrested Dontrell’s father Wednesday night, but there was no sign of the child until the boy’s body was found in Lake Michigan Thursday afternoon.
Community activist Andrew Holmes met with the boy’s mother shortly after his body was identified.
“She’s very emotional. She’s in shock and she wasn’t expecting this. She just really wanted her baby so she needs a lot of comfort now,” Holmes said.
Dontrell’s father remained in custody Thursday afternoon, but no charges had been filed against him. It is a “continuing investigation,” said Tandra Simonton, Cook County State’s Attorney’s office spokesman.
Quarles told reporters earlier Thursday that Dontrell’s father was upset with her because she wouldn’t come spend time with him and the baby Wednesday night.
Asked if she believed her husband was capable of harming Dontrell, Quarles said, “He has problems. He has problems. I wouldn’t put it past him. I wouldn’t put it past him.”
Dontrell’s aunt, Roleane Price, said police told her that when they showed the boy’s father a picture of him in a missing person flyer, “it looked like he was going to say somehting, but then he didn’t break.”
“He said he don’t care if his son eats or if his pamper gets changed. He just don’t care is what he was saying,” Price added. “He called my phone, and said that ‘It’s too late. I don’t know what she’s looking for me for. It’s too late. It’s all over with now,’ and I’m like ‘What do you mean by that?’ He didn’t say.”
WBBM Newsradio 780’s Steve Miller, CBS 2’s Mai Martinez, Kristyn Hartman and Dana Kozlov and the Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.