By Bob Uphues
Brookfield and Riverside emergency personnel rescued a 14-year-old boy from Salt Creek near Cantata Adult Life Services on May 21 at about 6:10 p.m., after he accidentally slipped and fell into the river while trying to retrieve a basketball.
An ambulance and a police officer just happened to be responding to a medical call at Cantata when a bicyclist flagged down the Officer Kathleen Golden, stating a boy was stuck in the water near the bike path behind the assisted-living facility.
The bicyclist guided Golden to an area near the Salt Creek spillway, a set of three large culverts that serves as an overflow connection to the Des Plaines River. The boy was standing on debris at the edge of the spillway, unable to get out of the water, which was moving swiftly around him into the culverts.
Golden tossed the boy a water rescue bag – a device Brookfield police purchased for all of its squad cars after a kayaker got stuck in the spillway in 2017 – and had him wrap the rope around his waist.
A short time later, Riverside Fire Chief Matthew Buckley arrived and extended a ladder to the boy, who was then able to climb out of the river.
Paramedics checked the boy out, but he was not injured and refused further medical treatment.
Almost exactly a year ago, on May 29, 2017, a 24-year-old Berwyn man and his kayak got trapped about 75 feet inside inside the spillway after he went over the mini-dam that directs water into one of the three culverts.
He was rescued by firefighters, who threw him lines to help the man pull himself out of the culvert. The man's kayak subsequently was recovered from the Des Plaines River.