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Police response time was 28 minutes when 2 toddlers drowned in Kankakee River

WGN Investigates

The 911 calls from a fisherman minutes before two toddlers drowned in the Kankakee River have been released. Police reports revealed that the response time to the drowning was 28 minutes.

Eric Patillo, 34, pleaded not guilty to two counts of neglect of a dependent resulting in death, after his two sons, Levi Patillo, 4, and Evan Patillo, 2, drowned in the Kankakee River Aug. 21. They were unresponsive when witnesses pulled them out of the water near the Illinois state line.

Authorities say Patillo admitted to using heroin the morning of the drownings and tested positive for opiates and THC, which gives marijuana its high.

In the 911 calls, a fisherman, Anthony Kyle, can be heard pleading for help from police and paramedics. He was fishing with a friend when he encountered Patillo and the two boys.

ANTHONY KYLE: “I gave him a nightcrawler and I noticed he started passing out while he was putting the nightcrawler on the hook. He was falling asleep with his two kids next to the water passing out on heroin.”

The 911 calls reveal Kyle asking police to hurry.

KYLE: “My buddy just said he peeked around the corner. He’s out cold right in here by the boat launch.”

 911: “He is?”

KYLE: “His two kids are just running around [expletive]. He’s laying there out cold. His kids are [expletive] running around throwing rocks in the water.”

 911:  “Are you near him? Can you go near him?”

KYLE: “Yeah, he actually just jumped up when he heard his kids throwing rocks in the water. He’s in the water.  Cooling himself off.  He’s going to be leaving soon I need somebody to hurry-up and get here.”

Police records reveal it took Newton County, Indiana sheriff's deputies 28 minutes to reach the scene. In that time, the fisherman said he lost site of the two brothers across the river. He called 911 a second time.

KYLE: “Yes, I just called you. I need medics now!”

 911:  “Okay. We have an officer that’s there. Do you see them?”

KYLE: “We need medics. There’s two boys drowned.”

 911: “Okay. Where are they at in the water?”

KYLE: “I don’t see no cops here ma’am.”

 911: “I’m sorry. Say that again. Your phone is breaking up.”

KYLE: “There’s no cops here. I need people here now.  Two boys drowned.”  

There was confusion as the dispatcher tried to guide police to the scene. By then, Kyle and a friend said they jumped in to try to save the boys.

KYLE: “I see no officers. Officers! Hey! Hey! Right here! Right here! Help! They’re here! Officers are here. I need ambulances. I need medical.”

 911: “Okay, I’ll get them on the way.”

 KYLE: “Okay.  Thank you. Please hurry. Please hurry. We got both boys! Hurry! Hurry!”

Paramedics and then doctors worked for nearly 90 minutes in a futile attempt to revive the kids.

The Newton County sheriff said he only had two deputies on duty at the time to cover a county that covers nearly 500 square miles.

Patillo’s next court hearing is Oct. 17.