FULTON COUNTY, Ill. (WMBD) — The Fulton County Coroner confirmed that a man drowned after falling out of a boat while fishing at Banner Marsh State Fish and Wildlife Area Sunday morning.

Fulton County Coroner Steve Hines confirmed the death of 66-year-old Robert L. Thompson. Thompson was fishing with his friend, 68-year-old Michael Polson, approximately half a mile southeast of Shovel Lake boat ramp when he fell off the port side from the bow and struggled to swim.

Polson told Illinois Conservation Police Sergeant Scott Avery that he tried to guide the boat near Thompson and used a pole to try and reach Thompson. Shortly after, Thompson went under the water. Polson said he dived into the water and grabbed Thompson, but Thompson was unresponsive.

Polson swam with Thompson to the bow of the boat and used the trolling motor to guide them both back to shore. In the process, Polson’s shirt got caught in the propeller and he had to cut himself free.

Polson pulled Thompson to shore and called 911 around 9:44 a.m.

OSF first responders said Thompson was deceased before they arrived. Thompson was transported by Fulton County Coroner Steve Hines to Oaks-Hines Funeral Home in Canton. Hines notified the next of kin in East Peoria. Hines said an autopsy will be conducted to determine the cause of death.

This post will be updated as more information becomes available.

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