Two of four Walworth County drowning victims identified

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Jake Magee
January 4, 2016

TOWN OF EAST TROY—Officials have released the identities of two Illinois men whose bodies were recovered from Lake Beulah after they and two others were reported missing Sunday.

The bodies of Lanny Patrick Sack, 20, and Christopher J. McQuillen, 21, were recovered shortly after responders began searching Sunday morning, according to a Walworth County Sheriff's Office news release.

A third body was recovered Monday afternoon. His identity is pending release. Responders' search for the final man is being treated as a recovery and not a rescue, said Jason Roberts, recreational safety warden for Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources southeast region.

Friends reported the four Illinois men missing from a lake house in the area of East Shore Drive and County J near Mill Lake in the town of East Troy when the friends found the men's belongings on the shore and saw an overturned canoe on the lake.

The men, all between ages 20 and 23, went outside to smoke at about 2:30 a.m. Sunday. Others went to sleep and awoke to discover the men missing, Roberts said.

The canoe was built for a maximum of three people. Sack and McQuillen weren't wearing clothes meant for cold water paddling, and there's no evidence any of the men had life jackets or flotation devices, he said.

Alcohol was involved in the incident, Roberts said.

The DNR is leading the investigation, according to the release.

Roberts said the water was extremely cold. Walworth County Sheriff Kurt Picknell said the cold weather and icy water were combining to make searching difficult.

Roberts described the accident as "a confluence of bad choices that ended rather tragically on this New Year's."

McQuillen's father told the Chicago Tribune that a relative of one of his son's friends called him Sunday to say Christopher McQuillen was missing. Joe McQuillen said he later learned his son was among the four men who disappeared in Wisconsin.

"He was just gone. He kind of slipped through our fingers like water," said McQuillen, who lives in Winnetka, Illinois. "But he knew he was loved."

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report


Jason Roberts, recreational safety warden for Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources southeast region, shared ice and cold water safety tips:

-- Dress in layers.

-- Don't go alone. Take a cellphone if you can, and make sure someone knows where you are and when you're expected to return.

-- Don't travel in unfamiliar areas or at night.

-- Avoid inlets, outlets or narrow areas that may have a current that can thin the ice.

-- Travel on clear ice and avoid ice with snow on it or bubbles in it.

-- Don't go out if you've been drinking alcohol.

-- Carry ice claws or picks, a life jacket and length of rope in case someone falls through the ice.

-- If you go through the ice and make it out, don't stand up. Instead, crawl with your forearms until the majority of your body is on solid ground.

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