Shelby County Sheriffs working to recover kayaker

    Shelby County Sheriffs working to recover kayaker. (Courtesy: Hannah Wehrle)


    CORRECTION: The 35-year-old kayaker's name is Wallace Otto Darko Jr. His nickname is JR or Junior.

    As of Tuesday morning, the Shelby County Dive Commander said officials had a problem locating the kayaker's body at first due to all of the debris in the Kaskaskia River.

    Officials confirmed the kayaker is 35-year-old Wallace Otto Darko Jr., of Effingham. Darko Jr. has five kids and one grandkid, according to officials.

    They believe they know where the Darko's body is, and now that the debris has been moved, divers will be searching the river this afternoon.

    Cadaver dogs will also be utilized to assist in the recovery mission.

    Officials have been on scene since 5 a.m. Tuesday and anticipate they will find Darko. If Darko isn't found today, the search and recovery will continue Wednesday.


    The Shelby County Rescue Dive Team believes they located the kayaker's body, a 35-year-old man, which is lodged in a log jam at Kaskasia River, near Cowden.

    Cowden, Ill. is a little over an hour south of Springfield.

    The body was found Sunday via 'drop video' which is similar to an underwater camera.

    Heavy equipment is being used by law enforcement to undo the log jam to free his body. This is day two of the effort.

    The sheriff's office said the man was kayaking in a big group of about 20 people at the time of the incident.

    He was in a solo kayak while others were tubing.

    The team witnessed the man go under water and called police right away.

    The dive team was first summoned around 5:15 p.m. Saturday and searched until midnight. The search continued Sunday at 8 a.m., when his body was first discovered.

    The sheriff's office said they haven't seen a log jam this size when it comes to recovery missions.

    Sergeant Brian McReynolds confirmed the group said it was "a day of drinking" when the incident occurred.

    Officials said they will continue to try to recover the man's body and will be on scene until the evening. If the body is not retrieved, they will return tomorrow.

    Effingham Dive Team, the Shelby County Dive Team, the sheriff's office, IDNR and Red Cross were at the scene.

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