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Deputies Respond to a Child and Vehicle in the Rock River

On Friday, July 5th, 2024, at approximately 7:27 PM, Whiteside County Deputies were dispatched to the boat launch in the 22000 block of Moline Road in rural Sterling.

Initial information provided to Whiteside County Dispatchers was that a vehicle had gone into the river with a child inside. Deputies arrived on the scene to find a male identified as John Cavazos of Sterling, IL and his 3-year-old son on the bank of the river.  

Cavazos told deputies he and his family had been fishing, and his vehicle was parked near the boat launch. They started packing the vehicle to leave when, for unknown reasons, it came out of the park and rolled into the river with the 3-year-old child inside. As the vehicle sank, other bystanders at the boat launch called 911. Cavazos jumped into the river to rescue his son as the vehicle quickly submerged.  Cavazos got the child out of the vehicle, and both made it safely to shore. Cavazos and his son were treated on the scene by EMS personnel and ultimately refused transport to a hospital.  

Emergency crews remained on the scene for approximately 5 hours before the vehicle was located using sonar and removed from the river with the assistance of trained divers.  

The Whiteside County Sheriff’s Office was assisted on the scene by the IDNR Conservation Police, Sterling  Fire Department, CGH EMS, Yorktown Fire Department Search and Rescue Divers, and Slim-n-Hanks  Towing.

400 N. Cherry St. Morrison, IL 61270 Phone: (815) 772-4044 Jail: (815) 772-5202 Fax: (815) 772-7944

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