Two men honored for saving boy after paddleboat mishap in Wauconda lake


WAUCONDA, Ill. — Two men who risked their lives to save two boys stranded in Bangs Lake two years ago were recognized by the Wauconda Police Department Wednesday.

As Michael Graves and Scott Bellanger fished on the suburban lake., Geraldo Rodriguez and a friend, 11-year-old Marquis Montez, took a paddleboat into the water the night of April. 19, 2019.

When the boat rocked, the boys became scared and jumped into the water, thinking they could swim to shore. The water was 45 degrees, however — cold enough for hypothermia to set in within minutes.

Graves and Bellanger jumped into the water and were able to save Marquis, but Geraldo went under. Dive crews searched for several hours that night before eventually transitioning from a “rescue” to “recovery” mission.

Crews found 9-year-old Geraldo’s body the next afternoon, days before he would’ve turned 10.

For their efforts, authorities presented both men with Life-Saving Awards.

“It actually means a lot to me what they did for me by saving my life two years ago,” said Montez, now 13-years-old.

Graves said he and Bellanger were fortunate.

Geraldo Rodriguez 

“A million things went right for this to turn out the way it did,” Graves said. “So just very fortunate that we had a chance and we were able to successfully keep [Montez] alive.”

All involved say they wish it would have been an even happier ending if Geraldo Rodriguez’s life was saved.

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