(WBBM Newsradio) — A lawsuit has been filed seeking damages in excess of $1 million from the city of Wilmington, a local motel and its operator over a drowning at the Wilmington Dam, adjacent to its South Island Park.

The city of Wilmington calls South Island Park its “jewel.” Attorney Katherine Cardenas calls it a “drowning machine.”

The suit Cardenas recently filed in Will County Court also seeks to remove the dam or make changes that would minimize the hazard.

Cardenas represents the family of Elizabeth Larson, who drowned while rafting in July. The attorney says a study done a decade ago indicated that the dam could be made safe simply by dropping huge boulders just below it, eliminating the potentially deadly vortex.

Cardenas claims to have evidence of 22 drownings and 23 rescues at the dam since 1982.

The suit also names the nearby Van Duyne Motel, Kankakee River Canoe Rentals and the businesses’ operator, Patrick Van Duyne.

WBBM has asked Mayor Roy Strong for comment.  An aide to the mayor declined comment.


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