Crews located the body of a 37-year-old man, who fell into the Mississippi River Sunday, April 1, 2012. Officials say they located the body near where the jet ski the man was riding initially tipped over near the 55th Street boat dock. Friends and family gathered moments after for a vigil to remember him.
Police say they received the 911 call at approximately 6:47 p.m. on Sunday. A press release from the Moline Police Department states that the man and a 13-year-old boy had been riding a jet ski when it swamped, throwing both parties into the water near the 55th Street Boat Ramp.
Witnesses tell News 8 that the man had just bought the jet skis and was enjoying the warm weather with friends. The 13-year-old is his girlfriend’s son and when it was his turn to ride along, the man gave him his life jacket. Police say the 13-year-old was able to stay afloat and eventually swam back to the jet ski. However, the man was taken by the current and never resurfaced.
Moline, East Moline, and the Arsenal Fire Departments deployed three river rescue boats into the water as well as numerous firemen on shore. Moline Police also assisted in the search. Darkness forced crews to end the rescue effort around 9:30 p.m.
By 7 a.m. on Monday, April 2, 2012, a group of family members and friends met at the 55th Street Boat Ramp and walked up and down the shore, looking for any sign of the man. Among the group, were the man’s father, Mike Golding, and Jason Golding, the man’s 19-year-old son.
“He was just starting to get his act together… got a decent job, raising three sons, and did a heck of a job with that so it’s too bad because things were just starting to turn around for him,” Mike said.
“It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” says Jason. “It will, but it didn’t seem like it was his time.”
Moline, East Moline, and the Arsenal Fire Departments, as well as the Coast Guard, also returned and had their boats in the water by 8:30 a.m. Battalion Chief Ted Smith with the Moline Fire Department said each team is taking one section of the river, which they divided into four parts. They were using drag bars to scan the bottom of the river and in some boats, sonar equipment.
Officials say it’s tragic this happened so early in the boating season, but they’re not necessarily surprised.
“We see this quite often,” said Battalion Chief Smith. “I think in the 28 years I’ve been with the fire department… It seems like sometimes it happens the first few times because they haven’t been out in the boat for a year or they buy a new boat, lack of experience… so this isn’t uncommon.”
Family and friends say they will be holding a candlelight vigil at the 55th Street Boat Ramp starting at 7 p.m. Monday, April 2.