Body of missing Antioch man recovered from Des Plaines River near Libertyville
The body of 24-year-old Antioch resident Thomas "Tommy" Howe III, who was reported missing after walking away from a traffic crash on Jan. 22, was found Tuesday afternoon.
Divers recovered the body shortly before 2 p.m. from the Des Plaines River near Libertyville. Based on the circumstances and evidence at the scene, the body has been preliminarily identified as Howe, according to Antioch police.
"We have been with the Howe family throughout their search for Tommy," Chief Geoffrey Guttschow said in a news release. "This is a devastating time for them. The family will continue to be in our prayers."
The news comes just days after the Howe family offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to their son's whereabouts.
Howe was on his way to Antioch for a family event when the vehicle he was driving struck a guardrail, then another vehicle, about 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 22, on northbound Interstate 94 near Route 176.
A witness identified Howe as the person leaving the scene on foot, crossing the eastbound lanes and heading toward the Old School Forest Preserve.
That was the last confirmed sighting of Howe, who "just kind of vanished without a trace," authorities said.
Howe's vehicle could not be driven and was towed from the crash site. Authorities later found his work cellphone in the vehicle. His parents reported him missing about 8 p.m. Jan. 22.
Several extensive searches of the forest preserve were launched by authorities using dogs and drones, as well as family, friends and hundreds of volunteers. The Lake County Sheriff's Office, Lake County Forest Preserve ranger police and Libertyville police, among others, aided Antioch police with the search.
Last Friday, a kayaker saw a jacket along the shoreline matching the description of the one Howe was last seen wearing and called police.
Teams consisting of multiple area police canine units and fire department dive teams conducted initial searches of the river Friday evening and Saturday, according to Antioch police.
However, due to unfavorable river conditions, the divers were not able to resume their work until Tuesday afternoon when the body was recovered, according to the release.
The Lake County Sheriff's and Lake County Coroner's offices are investigating Howe's death.
Lake County Sheriff's Office Deputy Chief Chris Covelli said Tuesday night that an autopsy on Howe's body is scheduled for Wednesday morning.
Covelli said investigators and evidence technicians spent the afternoon combing the area near the river and speaking with Antioch police to ensure they have the latest information. He said investigators can't say for sure when Howe entered the river but believe his body was in the water for several days.
Family and friends said it was not in Howe's character to leave the scene of an accident and thought he may have suffered a head injury and was disoriented.
During a news conference last Friday, Tom Howe described his son as a selfless, humble, dependable person who ensures no one ever feels excluded.
• Daily Herald staff writer Doug T. Graham contributed to this report.