Drowning victim was experienced boater
By Frank Abderholden email@example.com September 17, 2013 7:35PM
David Azooz, 47, of Antioch Township
Updated: November 18, 2013 3:19AM
ANTIOCH TOWNSHIP — The Antioch man who drowned in Lake Marie, David Azooz, 47, was an experienced boater and snow skier at Wilmot Mountain. He apparently fell off the back of his boat after having engine problems and did not resurface.
His 13-year-old daughter, who was still on the boat, called 911 from her cellphone and also put an oar in the water to aid him when he resurfaced, but she told her mother and witness, Dan Ryan, 51, of Niles, that her father went in and never came back up.
Ryan, who used his boat to take the girl’s mother out to her, said, “I took her out and we started searching until police got involved.” He added that the blue and white boat was an older model that had no swim platform on the back. “His (Azooz’s) daughter said he went under and didn’t come back up,” said Ryan.
“Something bad had to happen or he would have come back up,” he said, surmising that falling off the back of the boat he may of hit his head on the propeller. “Things happen fast on the water, things get bad fast,” he said. The 13-year-old was in a state of shock and Ryan said Lake County Sheriff’s Deputy Sgt. James Yanacek took care of the girl after he told Ryan to take the mother and tow the boat back to shore near the Sandbar Bar and Grille.
The family has asked for the media and public to respect the many difficult things they will face in the coming days.
“We ask for time to make these decisions and mourn our beloved husband, father and friend,” said the family email, asking for sensitivity from the media. “Dave was an amazing father, a caring husband and a great friend to all,” it read. He left behind a wife and four children.
According to the email, Azooz was a jack-of-all-trades and liked water jet skiing and snow skiing at Wilmot (Mountain). “We would like to specially thank all the countless men and women from all the rescue agencies that added in the recovery of Dave,” it read. Wake and funeral arrangements are pending.
His body was recovered after it showed up on a side sonar the rescue personnel were using to search the lake. He was found shortly before 11 p.m., said Antioch Fire Department Deputy Chief Chris Leinhardt. Rescue boats from Antioch, Fox Lake, Grayslake and the Greater Round Lake Fire Protection District were there in minutes. Lake County Sheriff Deputy Jack Johnson entered the water before divers arrived and searched for Azooz. He was treated and released at the scene and a sheriff’s spokesman said he went home, changed clothes, and finished his shift.
Illinois Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Rich Riedel said, “We don’t know exactly what caused him to fall in, but he did have some engine problems and he took the cover off the motor and set it on the back of the boat. When he fell in, the cover went along with him,” he said.
The water was so murky that divers could not see their instruments. Riedel said the side sonar worked remarkably well. “We usually don’t get recoveries that quick,” he said.
Orlando Portillo, deputy chief of the Lake County Coroner’s Office, said an autopsy was done Wednesday afternoon. The cause of death was drowning and alcohol was a contributing factor. There were some minor lacerations on his head.
Riedel said Azooz was wearing two shirts, jeans and hiking boots. “With that type of clothing, it probably contributed to his inability to stay buoyant,” he said. “It would have made it difficult to stay afloat,” he said.
He also said it was a sad reminder that whenever people are on a boat, they should be wearing personal flotation devices. “People complain that they are hot and uncomfortable, but technology has taken care of that,” he said of life jackets that have Co2 cartridges that inflate on contact with water. “We know from statistics that 70 percent of the drowning victims in the state could have lived if they had a life jacket,” he said.