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Wife of missing boater calls husband a hero

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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.

Get more coverage of the incident - click here.

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.


  • Cindy Ellsworth

    Why didn’t the wife have a lifejacket on to begin with or the husband have her wear “the good lifejacket” from the start? Did the other passengers have life vests and how old/large is the son that is mentioned; was he wearing a child’s vest?

  • Hepner

    None of that information is even relevant! I have two children and I would double up their life vests and not take one at all if it meant them surviving and me not. What this gentleman did was what a true loving husband/father would do. Why don’t you be a little more concerned with praying and helping the family instead of nit picking at supid details that frankly are none of your business. Go find sometime productive to do

  • Teresa Orr

    I agree 100% Hepner. It does no good for anyone to dwell on who had what life vest. The son would have needed an adult size vest as well. Charlie is nothing more than a hero in this situation, caring only for the safety of his family and making sure that they had the best chance of survival. My heart goes out to this family and I pray that they find him. I didn’t know Charlie, but I do know his brother and wife and they are wonderful people that have had a very tragic thing happen to them. They can use as many prayers as possible coping with the loss of their ‘hero’. Please be a little more sensitive to their loss. I’m sure that if they dwell on not having that extra life jacket, it’s only going to make things harder on them.

  • Boone Allison

    Such a tragic loss haven’t seen Charlie since high school first of all my heart goes out to his family I am praying they find him and for all that he leaves behind. He is a hero in my eyes to do such a selfless act to do what he did in normal circumstances the life jackets they had on would have been fine but in this situation he did what was best for his loved one I would have done the same he was a good guy a good friend and he will be missed by many .

  • Jack Johnson

    You should always have proper equipment when on the river, just like wearing a seat belt in a car. An accident, but one that could have been avoided…sad. They all should have had “the good life jacket”.

  • Debbie Smith

    I hope everyone that reads this article or knows of this news story will take an extra moment to make sure that everyone that is going to be on a boat has on an appropriate lifejacket at all times. Don’t let this man’s death be in vain. You just never know what kind of unforeseen accident may happen while you are on the water. Prayers to the Slocum family. May Mr. Slocum rest in peace.

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