EAST PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — The East Peoria coroner has released the name of the man who drowned in the Illinois River at 1:10 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 1.
Coroner Charles R. Hanley identified him as 31-year-old Darrell Wayne O’Neal of Peoria.
O’Neal’s body was recovered from the harbor and brought to the dock at the United States Coast Guard Station in East Peoria.
Preliminary autopsy findings show his death was caused by drowning, and there was no trauma involved in the death. The toxicology report is still pending.
Authorities say O’Neal drowned after he fell near the Illinois River at the United States Coast Guard Station in East Peoria.
Investigators say he was suspected of shoplifting and tried to run out of the East Peoria Walmart with a basket full of items.
“By the time we got there, we had been told by witnesses that the individual had entered the water, actually in the harbor of the Coast Guard Station. They watched him struggling in the middle of the inlet and went down and never came back up.” said Michael Johnson, Fon Du Lac Park District police chief.
This case remains under investigation by the East Peoria Police Department, Fon Du Lac Park District Police Department’s Marine Law Enforcement Unit, and the Tazewell County Coroner’s Office.