Questions Emerge Surrounding Search For Teen Who Jumped Into River

CHICAGO (CBS) — Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin called on an investigation into why it took five days to find the body of Cameron Sanders in the Des Plaines River.

This decision, he says, was made after meeting with the teen’s family.

“The information that they shared with me about the recovery of Cameron’s body was very disturbing. So disturbing I think it warrants a thorough investigation of what happened from day one,” Boykin said.

The 16-year-old went missing last Saturday after jumping off an old railroad trestle known as Rainbow Bridge, into the river, while hanging out with a couple friends in Melrose Park. Sanders was pulled under by the current.

The Forest Preserves of Cook County (FPCC) were the first on scene, though neither the Des Plaines River or the railroad are considered Forest Preserves property.

“Acting as an assisting organization, the Forest Preserves began a search and also contacted a number of agencies,” Lambrini Lukidis said, director of communications for the FPCC. She said Forest Preserves crews searched for 6-7 hours on Saturday and resumed an 8-hour search on Sunday, which included Homeland Security, Melrose Park Police & Fire as well as other municipal agencies.

“The search included watercraft, helicopters, scuba divers, and sonar and cadaver dogs,” Lukidis said. “FPCC continued searching by foot and by boat Monday and throughout the week until the body was found.”

Boykin said he is also concerned about the jurisdictional issues that played during the beginning of recovery. “It seemed like nobody was really in charge. In Cook County, we cannot have a tragedy like this where no one asserts authority or jurisdiction over this matter.”

On Monday, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office joined the search. Sanders’ body was recovered from the river on Thursday morning, six days later, 150 yards away from the bridge, in the Thatcher Woods forest preserve.

“The sheriff was very concerned with the apparent delays in launching a comprehensive search for Cameron,” Chief Policy Officer for the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, Cara Smith, said. “The sheriff himself was on a boat up and down the river all day Tuesday and Wednesday and several hundred staff from our office were searching until he was found. It’s imperative that jurisdictional issues not impede recovery efforts as the delay only caused more anguish to a grieving family.”

Boykin stated, “It should not take this long to find an individual’s body. We must get to the bottom of it and that’s why we’ve asked for the inspector general to conduct this investigation.”

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