It was a frightening scene on the mighty Mississippi, when a boat capsized and five people all went under at Lock & Dam 14, just upstream from the Quad Cities. It triggered a search and rescue mission; four people were saved and the search for Charles Slocum continues after everyone on board says he saved their lives.
It started out as a beautiful day to go fishing on the Mississippi River.
“He would go fishing with his best friend all the time. That’s who we were with, and they wanted to take the boat one last time,” Sally Jo Slocum said about her husband.
On the boat with Sally Jo were her son, two friends and her husband Charles.
“The anchor broke and the current started taking us towards the dam and we could not get the boat started,” said Sally Jo.
The boat then flipped over, forcing the passengers under the dam’s rollers.
“I was on the boat and it was the scariest thing, and now this is even more scarier. I just want my husband,” said Sally Jo.
Crews searched for the passenger on land and water. Medforce flew above doing a surface search. Crews were able to rescue three in the water and the other on land, but they could not find Charles Slocum.
“At this point, it’s been determined recovery operation,” said Steve Fransiko, conservation police officer for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
“Your time frame in this water right here is in minutes, to where you’re going to lose control of your arms and not be able to swim,” said Fransiko.
The water temperature at the time of the incident was reportedly 53 degrees.
Charles, better known to his family as Charlie, is from Colona, Illinois. He is also the father of two young girls, and his wife says he is a hero.
“He had on the good life jacket. He took it off and gave it to me, said he loved me and to save myself,” said Sally Jo.
Charles took a child-sized life jacket instead.
“We recovered one single life jacket off the river and, of course, he wasn’t in it,” said Fransiko.
Now, crews are hoping to find Charles so they can help the family move on.
“I love him so much, at least find him so I can at least put him at rest, that’s all I ask,” said Sally Jo.
The search for Charles Slocum was to continue on Wednesday, May 6, 2014.