UPDATE: Sunday, Jan. 24, 2021 at 4:17 p.m.
After conducting additional searches along the Des Plaines River downstream of the crash site with a drone, first responders reported locating the body of a person in the river on the west side of the Barrypoint Road bridge at about 2 p.m.
At about 3 p.m., firefighters using a boat recovered the body, believed to be a female, from the water.
The investigation is being handled by the Illinois State Police, and while earlier information pointed toward possibly two people having been inside the vehicle at the time of the crash, it appears that investigators now believe there was only one occupant.
Riverside Fire Chief Matthew Buckley, interviewed at the scene Sunday afternoon, told the Landmark that “through the investigative things that [state police and Lyons police] have done already this morning, they determined there was only one person in the vehicle, which is why we’re confident that this is the person from that vehicle.”
A Riverside police officer reportedly did make contact with the owner of the vehicle, a Chicago woman. It is unclear whether or not she may have information about what happened.
Riverside Fire Chief Matthew Buckley said there was no one inside a maroon Ford sedan found half submerged in the middle of the Des Plaines River on Sunday morning.
However, Police Chief Thomas Weitzel told the Landmark it’s his understanding that police have contacted a woman who may have been at the wheel, adding that person said there was a passenger inside the car at the time of the crash.
Weitzel said he didn’t believe police had made physical contact with the driver, a Chicago resident. The passenger’s last known address also is in Chicago, but Weitzel said police believe that person may live in Berwyn.
The investigation has been turned over to the Illinois State Police, Weitzel said..
A Riverside resident called 911 at about 9:15 a.m. on Jen. 24 to report the car after seeing it from the front window of her home, according to Weitzel. The car, which had sustained driver’s side damage, was facing westbound in the water.
The car apparently floated downstream until getting stuck about 100 yards east of Lawndale Avenue, where police believe the car left the roadway.
“We believe it did happen overnight,” said Buckley. “It hasn’t been in there for more than a day; we think a couple hours.”
Buckley was one of two firefighters who waded out to the car to inspect it. He said the driver’s side airbag had deployed, the keys were in the ignition and there were a couple of jackets in the back seat. There was no one inside the car, whose doors were closed and windows rolled up.
Based on where officials believe the car careened over the river bank, the car appears to have been headed north on Lawndale Avenue when it failed to make the turn onto Ogden Avenue and crashed into the river.
Lyons first responders performed drone search of the river downstream from the car did not turn up anything, Buckley said. In addition, Riverside police walked along the Riverside riverbank all the way to the Ogden Avenue bridge but found nothing.
“We didn’t have any signs of anybody floating down or anything like that,” Buckley said.
At about 10 a.m., a tow truck had arrived to pull the car from the water. We will update this story when there is more information available.