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‘Just doing my job’, deputy says of Lake Villa rescue

Lake County Sheriff's Deputy William King

Lake County Sheriff's Deputy William King

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for dead teen

A fund-raiser for the family of Nicholas Bonilla, the Lindenhurst teen who died in the Lake Miltmore crash, will be held from 5:30 to 11:30 p.m. today, Dec. 1, at the C’Mon Inn, 34028 Route 45, Grayslake.

Updated: January 30, 2013 1:15AM

With five months on the job, Lake County Sheriff’s Deputy William King was used to the routine on the overnight shift and had just started patrolling in Venetian Village when he got an accident call on Engle Drive from dispatch.

“I happened to be doing some home checks when the call came in and I was on the same road in the vicinity,” said King of what turned out to be a fatal accident Nov. 23 when an SUV hit a boat lift and ended up upside down about 50 feet into Lake Miltmore.

As he pulled up he could hear people yelling. The car apparently went through the stop sign at Nathan Hale Drive onto the grass and then into the lake.

“I’m coming down the hill and its dark. I hear a guy say, ‘They’re in the water, they’re in the water, there’s two of them,” King recalled Friday. He radioed dispatch that the car was in the water and told them he was going in. He told a bystander to watch his stuff.

“The water was cold, but I didn’t think about the water or how deep it was because the kid was saying, ‘I don’t want to die. My brother is dead,’” the deputy said.

The youth, later identified as Angel Flores, 18, of Lindenhurst, who has since been released from Advocate Condell Medical Center, Libertyviille, was not related to Nicholas Bonilla, 18, of Lindenhurst, the driver of the Pontiac Aztek, who died in the crash.

“He (Flores) was breathing in a little pocket of air in the back of the vehicle near the floor (the vehicle was upside down) and he kept saying he didn’t want to die,” said King.

The deputy told himself he was not going to let anything happen to the kid. He was able to push the rear seat forward so there was enough room for Flores to get his feet free and stay in the air bubble.

Neither door would open and King reached through the broken back window to open the rear door or hatch, but it only opened partially.

“I had a hold of his clothing and I propped him up and then just ripped him through (the opening),” said the deputy.

”He was still conscious, but no broken bones. I grabbed him under the arms and escorted him back to shore,” he said. Then he and Deputy Adam Domerchie went back to the vehicle and tried breaking windows with a fireman’s axe.

“Then we tried to pry open the door, but I couldn’t feel my hands anymore. I just couldn’t feel anything anymore,” said King, who is over 6-foot-tall and was completely soaked from the shoulder-high water.

He headed for shore while Domerchie kept trying to pry the door when a supervisor called for both of them to get out of the water.

They came in and Deputies John Van Dien and Mark Robbins went to try and get Bonilla, but he was finally removed by divers from the Lake Villa Fire Department. He was pronounced dead at Condell.

This was the first time King ever saved anyone and he said he knows it’s a cliche, “but I’m just doing my job. That’s it.”

“A lot of people have said ‘Good job,’ but you know what, that other kid is still not with us. I don’t know what more we could have done,” said King, admitting to some arm chair quarterbacking. That night he went home, took a hot shower and then finished his midnight shift.

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office said Friday that King will be nominated for the sheriff’s Life Saving Award by the department’s Awards Committee, which then makes the recommendation to Sheriff Mark Curran for approval.

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