Officials call for investigation of response to teen’s disappearance in Des Plaines River

MELROSE PARK -- Did authorities bungle the search for a boy missing in the Des Plaines River?

A Cook County commissioner and a congressman are calling for an independent investigation into how the emergency response unfolded after 16-year-old Cameron Sanders fell into the Des Plaines River in Melrose Park.

The teenager was hanging out with friends and jumped into the river on May 13. He didn’t surface.

And as the search began on a small slice of unincorporated Cook County, it raised the question of who was in charge in an emergency response. At one point, the rescue and recovery effort involved the Melrose Park Police, Forest Preserve Police, state Department of Natural Resources, the Chicago Police Department's dive team, Brookfield and Lyons fire departments, and other area emergency response teams.

It wasn’t until five days later that the boy’s body was found just 150 yards from the bridge, only after Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart took control of the operation with some 200 officers using boats and emergency response equipment.

Now, Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin is calling for an independent investigation into the emergency response and recovery effort.

"This incident may be a glaring example of having too many law enforcement agencies respond, and nobody in charge. Too many indians and no chief," Boykin said.

The incident happened near a railroad trestle bridge known as the Rainbow Bridge. Congressman Danny Davis says he’s going to request that the Canadian National Railway install barriers so people can’t get near the water.

"We’re going to ask the Canadian Railroad to take a good look at this area and see if they can erect some kind of barrier," Davis said.

Boykin said he also met with the Sanders family Friday,and they have retained a lawyer and could be preparing to sue.

"The information that they shared with me about the recovery of Cameron’s body was very disturbing," Boykin said.

The Cook County inspector general has agreed to review the situation and Boykin also says he’s awaiting a response from state police. He says he wants the investigations to produce recommendations to prevent a situation like this from happening again.

"I think it’s vitally important that the taxpayers of Cook County are assured that whenever we have a tragedy like this, that every resource known to mankind is deployed and that we use every effort to recover the body in a timely fashion," Boykin said.