One man died and two others were rescued Wednesday morning after a boat overturned in Baldwin Lake in Illinois Wednesday.
The lake is located within the Kaskaskia River State Fish and Wildlife Area, where St. Clair County and Randolph County meet. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources is handling the investigation.
Sergeant Eric Manker, with the Illinois DNR Conservation Police, said a group of three men were fishing on the lake Wednesday morning. Manker said they tried to cross from one side of the lake to the other, but the high winds made for choppy water and big waves.
The boat eventually capsized. Manker said one boater tried to swim to shore, but when he struggled in the water, a second boater swam to help him. They both made it to shore and survived.
A third boater stayed in the water, holding onto the boat for support, but by the time rescue crews arrived, he had drowned. The St. Clair County Coronor identified the man as 48 year old Lonnie Smith. DNR officials said
Smith is the father of the boat owner, and all three men were family members from East St. Louis.
DNR said all three men were wearing life jackets.
“Just because you have a life jacket on doesn’t mean you’re going to survive in high wind conditions like this, even with a life jacket on, you’re going to take waves over the top of your head,” Manker said.
Manker said DNR responded to another wind-related incident on Carlyle Lake Wednesday, but nobody was injured.
“Use good judgement,” he said. “When you have a wind advisory like this, don’t go on the water. I don’t care where it’s at, it’s not worth the risk.”
Dick Kaltenbronn was on the shore of Lake Baldwin fishing Wednesday morning. He left long before the accident, but said the water was chopper than he has ever seen at that location.
“It was just white-capping — about two to three foot waves, where I was at,” Kaltenbronn said. “Lot of white caps, it just [was] not a pleasant day to be on the lake.”
Kaltenbronn, who lives in Belleville, learned about accident later after reading news reports.
“If it’s windy like this, they shouldn’t be on the lake with a boat. It is just – it just isn’t safe.”