Vermilion sheriff's divers recover body of 71-year-old Hillery man

Vermilion sheriff's divers recover body of 71-year-old Hillery man

HILLERY — Divers with the Vermilion County sheriff's office on Thursday afternoon recovered the body of a man who drowned in a private pond behind his home a day earlier.

Capt. Mike Hartshorn said the body of 71-year-old Robert Porter Jr. was located in about 30 feet of water around 2:25 p.m.

Hartshorn said no foul play is suspected.

"It was a terrible tragedy, and the family has asked for privacy in their time of loss," he said.

He added an autopsy will be conducted at the Champaign County coroner's office.

Sheriff's deputies were called the old strip mine pond on Mr. Porter's property, at the north end of Blackford Street in unincorporated Hillery, just west of Danville, around 10 a.m. Wednesday.

Hartshorn said Mr. Porter, his fiance and a 2-year-old child were in a small boat when the motor failed. Mr. Porter stood up to try to fix the motor, which caused the boat to capsize and all three occupants to fall into the water.

The child was wearing a floatation device. Mr. Porter's fiance was able to get the child back to shore and call for help. However, Mr. Porter went underwater.

The sheriff's Underwater Search and Rescue Team searched the pond, which was at least 50 feet deep in some areas and had low visibility, late into the evening, but had to call off the search around 8:15 p.m due to the darkness.

The team resumed the search at 7 a.m. Thursday with assistance from the Illinos Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police officers and the Vermilion County Emergency Management Agency.

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