Search Suspended for Missing Canoeist as Crews Drain Retention Pond

Jeremy Asbell, 25, of Bolingbrook, disappeared after his canoe tipped over in a Lemont retention pond around 2 a.m. Tuesday.

6 p.m.

The Lemont Fire Protection District has suspended search efforts Wednesday for 25-year-old Jeremy Asbell.

According to Battalion Chief Jim Sheldon, the search was temporarily halted around 3 p.m. in the retention pond where Asbell's canoe reportedly tipped over early Tuesday morning.

Three trucks from the DuPage County Public Works Department arrived on the scene with large pumps to lower water levels.

"We haven't picked up anything at all, so this will hopefully help us see a little bit better when we go out again," he said.

Sheldon described the pond as "very dark and murky," and said the dense weeds were making it difficult for them to pick up anything in the water.

Before suspending their search for the day, crews used two large poles to move heavy vegetation at the bottom of the pond, he said. After two days, however, there are still no signs of Asbell.

Fire officials will likely return to the scene around 8 a.m. Thursday, Sheldon said. 

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3:20 p.m.

Public works crews have been called in to lower the water level of the retention pond where Jeremy Asbell was last seen early Tuesday morning, said Dawn Domrose, a spokeswoman for the DuPage County Sheriff's Office.

No arrests have been made at this point, she said. 

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3:10 p.m.

Two boats remain on the retention pond where 25-year-old Jeremy Asbell was reported missing early Tuesday morning, but a more significant amount of authorities now appear to be focusing on the outskirts of the pond.

Three DuPage County Public Works vehicles are now on scene with heavy duty equipment. It's not sure what that equipment may be used for. 

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2:35 p.m.

Fire officials remain on the water with police officers searching around the pond. Some police officers can be seen interviewing individuals who have been sitting outside the house all day.

The family is no longer on the scene.

Jeremy Asbell, the 25-year-old Bolingbrook native who was reported missing after his canoe capsized in an unincorporated Lemont retention pond, has now been missing for more than 36 hours.

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1:30 p.m.

Lemont Deputy Fire Chief Jay Nickleski said crews are returning to the retention pond to continue searching for 25-year-old Jeremy Asbell this afternoon.

No divers will be sent into the water, but a boat will survey the areas immediately surrounding the shore, he said.

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12:15 p.m.

Lemont Fire Department officials say they'll begin another search for Jeremy Asbell at 1:30 p.m.

This morning, crews completed their search of the retention pond that Asbell, a Bolingbrook-native, was last seen in and said no more recovery attempts were imminent. 

Fire crews will continue searching the water, authorities said, while police canvass the surrounding land.

Asbell reportedly went missing around 2 a.m. Tuesday after his canoe capsized in the large pond. A friend who was in the canoe with him, who authorities have yet to identify, swam safely to shore.

DuPage County detectives are also on the scene interviewing individuals at a nearby home.

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11:30 a.m.

Lemont fire crews have completed their search of a retention pond in unincorporated Lemont, and have not found any signs of 25-year-old Bolingbrook native Jeremy Asbell.

The search team left scene, located on Frontage Road and Woodward Avenue, shortly after 11 a.m. As of this morning, there are no plans for them to resume searching the pond, according to Lemont Deputy Fire Chief Jay Nickleski.

"We did a couple sweeps this morning with the K-9 unit, and came up empty," he said. "The investigation is in the hands of the DuPage County Sheriff at this point, and so far they haven't scheduled another search of the pond."

Asbell reportedly went missing around 2 a.m. Tuesday after his canoe capsized in the large pond. A friend who was in the canoe with him, who authorities have yet to identify, swam safely to shore.

More than a dozen of Asbell's friends and family members remain on the scene.

DuPage County detectives are also on the scene interviewing individuals at a nearby home.

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10:05 a.m.

Lemont Deputy Fire Chief Jay Nickleski confirmed that one boat was sent out to sweep the pond earlier Wednesday morning with the assistance of a DuPage County K-9 unit.

The water investigation is being conducted Wednesday by the Lemont Fire Protection District. Tuesday's search included dive teams from nearly a dozen area fire departments.

Nickleski said divers would only be sent into the water if the dogs picked up on any scents. He said the crews were considering one more sweep of the pond before suspending their search for the day.

The direction of the investigation would be up to the DuPage County Sheriff's Department at that point, he said.

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9:45 a.m.

Two dozen friends and family members have gathered at the Lemont retention pond where the search continues for 25-year-old Jeremy Asbell.

His mother, Linda Asbell, declined to comment on the search, but said she was grateful for the support her family has received.

"We're hoping and praying," she said. "We've got a lot of people praying for us right now. I'm just waiting for the phone call."

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9:20 a.m.

Dawn Domrose, spokeswoman for the DuPage County Sheriff's Department, said there were no new leads or developments overnight in the search for Jeremy Asbell.

She confirmed that the department's K-9 units were on the scene, but could not verify where officers were concentrating their search Wednesday.

A small boat could be seen surveying the pond around 9 a.m.

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8:30 a.m.

Crews from the DuPage County Sheriff's Department and Lemont Fire Protection District were back at a large retention pond in unincorporated Lemont Wednesday morning to continue searching for 25-year-old Jeremy Asbell.

The Bolingbrook man reportedly was riding in a canoe with a friend shortly before 2 a.m. Tuesday when it capsized, throwing both into the water. Although the other man, who remains unidentified, was able to swim to safety, Asbell remains missing.

Around 8 a.m., helicopters could be circling the area, while K-9 units surveyed the perimeter of the pond.

Asbell's family and friends, many of whom organized a private search party Tuesday night, were slowly starting to arrive back at the scene at 8:30 a.m.

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5.59 a.m.

A search will resume Wednesday morning for a 25-year-old Bolingbrook man  in a retention pond in unincorporated Lemont.

The  responded around 2 a.m. Tuesday to a possible drowning in a large pond at Frontage Road and Woodward Avenue, according to Lemont Fire Chief Carl Churulo. The call was made from a home at 20W461 S. Frontage Road.

Churulo said two men were out on a canoe when it tipped over, tossing both into the water. One man was able to swim to safety but the other—identified as Jeremy Asbell of Bolingbrook—remains missing.

Crews temporarily suspended their search Tuesday morning due to darkness and thick weeds in the pond, but resumed around 8 a.m. The operation was suspended again around 2 p.m. after more than six hours of searching left crews without any signs of Asbell.

Lemont fire officials led the investigation with assistance from the DuPage County Sheriff's Department. Dive crews from several area fire departments—including Lisle-Woodridge, Westmont, Orland Park, Palos Argonne and Tri-State—were called in for the search, along with a Chicago Police helicopter.

Dawn Domrose, spokeswoman for the DuPage County Sheriff's Office, said sonar technology and K-9 units failed to detect any signs of Asbell in the water or around the perimeter of the pond.

Asbell's friends and family, including his mother and girlfriend, gathered at the scene around 3 a.m. and remained there most of the day.

After the area was secured by DuPage County police, a large group assembled around 5:30 p.m. at  to organize a private search. However, several of Asbell's friends reported on Facebook that the search was unsuccessful and that they would suspend their efforts until morning.

Lemont Deputy Fire Chief Jay Nickleski said crews planned to return to the scene at 8 a.m. Wednesday with cadaver dogs. The search is classified as a "recovery rather than rescue mission," he said.

Questions still remain as to what Asbell may have been doing prior to going out on the water.

His mother, Linda Asbell, said she was notified by police around 2:30 a.m. that her son was missing. She said friends and family believe he was drinking at a house near the pond before heading out on the canoe with his friend.

"I'm hearing so many different things, I don't know what to think," Linda Asbell said. "We heard he may have been at a bonfire at a nearby house but no one will talk to us.

"We're just continuing to pray. This doesn't make any sense."

WGN News reports that Jeremy Asbell's girlfriend, Jessica Gortz, spoke to him shortly before he went missing.

"He was happy. He wanted me to come pick him up at this bonfire party, and I guess this is where it was," Gortz told WGN.

Asbell is a 2004 graduate of Romeoville High School where he wrestled and played football. He is the father of two boys, ages 6 years and 21 months.

On his Facebook page, he lists his current residence as Darien and his hometown as Bolingbrook.

Family described him as a good swimmer, and said they had no reason to believe he would not have been able to make it to shore.

Check back with Patch throughout the day for more on this developing story.

Neringa Sankauskaite August 05, 2011 at 12:56 PM
Tracey Kirby August 05, 2011 at 02:26 PM
Neringa, it sounds to me like you are close to this tragedy and I believe that I know which side you are close to (I will not post which I believe because I don't want people to attack you). First, I will say I am sorry for your loss! I don't know anyone involved in this situation..I am simply a Patch reader and along with reading stories I like to read the comments. This one intrigue me because all I was reading made me wonder..what really happened here. Contrary to what other people from another side are spewing, I am not point fingers, accusing or picking on anyone in particular or whatever else people that comment differently from those that "I" believe to be tied to this "white house" based on what they are saying & how hard they are trying to defend their position. All I can say it based on what is said in these comments, not the story, it is VERY easy to believe there is more than meets the eye. I don't understand why law enforcement would allow ANYone to be searching the retention pond while they were not on site. It should have been protected. I do believe this pond could have been littered with vegetation, murky waters, and weeds making it difficult to locate a body especially with the depth of the pond. That's what rentation ponds are. Then it the older brother from the white house states he is the one that finds the body when people are no longer on the scene. It makes you wonder? I would wonder less if it was someone else that found Jeremy's body. cont
Tracey Kirby August 05, 2011 at 02:30 PM
Anyone with a logical mind and a little common sense would question this. I don't know what law enforcement is thinking...no one does. As a concerned citizen, I hope if they believe with any amount of being that somethings don't add up that they will do an investigation. If not, I hope all of you can find away to move on and not let it consume you in a negative way (I mean that in a good way). But Karma can beautiful thing and as I stated previous...what happens in the dark will eventually come to light...maybe not today or tomorrow but someday it will. My thoughts are will all of you that suffered this loss.
TKC August 05, 2011 at 08:58 PM
Neringa no one dragged the body to the shore. Where are you getting your information? He was found Wed night. The police and rescue crews went back out into the pond and realized that he was in there, but since it was almost dark and there were bystanders they waited until daybreak to get divers to pull him out of the seaweeds. The main cluster of cops were gone but investigators were still on scene parked on the street. Throughout this there was ALWAYS law enforcement of some sort on the scene.
SteamerJ August 28, 2011 at 10:27 PM
Great question! Was this just some random canoe at the site. We're they using paddles. The news keeps showing pics/videos of a silver boat but the report is that they we're in a canoe! Was it a red canoe or silver?


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