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Divers on site in Oregon as search continues for missing boaters

OREGON – An effort to recover the bodies of two fishermen from the Rock River in Oregon was suspended Thursday for the second night.

Divers were searching for the men whose boat capsized below the Oregon dam on Wednesday.

Boats equipped with sonar resumed their search at 7:30 a.m. Thursday, yielding images that Ogle County Sheriff Brian VanVickle said should help divers locate the bodies.

Water conditions, which could worsen Friday due to the weather, have complicated the search, VanVickle said.

“The river conditions are forecasted to increase in level as well as volume and it will make dive operations extremely difficult,” VanVickle said at a news conference Thursday afternoon. “We're trying to get this finished today so we can bring closure to the families and make sure that all of the responders are safe.”

The names of the two fishermen, whose boat capsized around 11:30 a.m. Wednesday just below the dam, have not been released and will not be until they are found, VanVickle said.

“We've been in contact with the families so they're well aware of the situation and everything that's ongoing,” VanVickle said.

The locations of the diving will not be made public in an effort to keep people safe and away from parts of the river that are difficult to get to, VanVickle said.

Divers from the Byron and Rochelle fire departments are searching the river, and Oregon Fire Capt. Dustin Champlain said Thursday that 25 fire department volunteers have been part of the search.

Champlain, who said he was nearing 48 hours without sleep in the search effort, seemed determined to bring the search to a close Thursday night.

“As we stand now, we have a lot of work ahead of us tonight if we want to make this happen,” Champlain said. “Right now, we're going to get back out and try to take care of this.”

Officials said the search was suspended Thursday night and river conditions will be evaluated Friday to determine when searching will resume.

A witness saw an overturned boat in the boil below the dam in the west channel of the river, and called 911 Wednesday morning.

Law enforcement officials used numbers on the boat to match it to a pickup and trailer parked in the Castle Rock State Park boat launch 2 miles south of town.

A call to the family of the owner revealed that two men were fishing on the Rock River.

Search and rescue personnel from Ogle, Lee, Winnebago, and Boone counties immediately responded. The search included officers and boats from the the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, three drones, a private search and rescue company, and a React helicopter.

The Ogle County Sheriff's Department is in charge of the recovery, and the IDNR will investigate the incident.

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