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Mt. Pleasant News   Wash Journal
Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 18, 2018

Body of missing Milan girl found in Mississippi River Saturday

By Marc Nessler and Jim Meenan, Quad City Times | Jun 25, 2018

The body of Maci Jade Chavez, 5, of Milan, was found Saturday morning in the Mississippi River. The news was first reported on Facebook in a post by her mother, Melisssa Chavez-Huston.

It was confirmed by Sgt. Tony Petreikis, with the Illinois Conservation Police, and by Rock Island County Coroner Brian Gustafson.

The body was found by the general public, Petreikis said, around 11 a.m. Saturday in Pool 16 of the Mississippi River. That area is located between Rock Island and Muscatine. The DNR was to deploy four boats Saturday, and not all of them were out yet, Petrikis said.

A search for Maci’s body had been ongoing since the boating accident that occurred on Monday at the Milan Dam.

Maci’s body was found in the Mississippi River after going through the Steel Dam in Milan on the Rock River.

Maci’s mother was in the canoe with her at the time the boat was swept into the Steel Dam’s current. Also along on what was supposed to be an afternoon of summer-vacation fun was Chavez-Huston’s son, Ian, and a neighbor friend of his. Chavez-Huston thought they had been saved when a rescue raft arrived; however, that raft capsized in the turbulent waters, with Maci on the raft as it went under.

The girl, her mother, her brother and his friend were in a canoe, and the current pulled it into the Milan dam, according to the Illinois Conservation Police. All of the people were wearing life jackets, and the canoe’s other occupants were rescued.

Gustafson pronounced Maci dead at 11:20 a.m. Saturday and ruled the death a drowning.

“We are grateful we had the opportunity to bring her back and hopefully find closure for her family,” Gustafson said in a statement.

Maci, who was going into first grade, would have turned 6 on July 23.

Assisting with the search were crews from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Moline Fire Department, and Christian Aid Ministries Search and Rescue.

Huston-Chavez declined answering any questions Saturday and simply asked for prayers.

There is a GoFundMe fundraiser established to help the family with funeral and memorial costs. It can be reached on the Facebook page of Jessica Van De Walker. Teachers and administrators at Washington Junior High School, where Mrs. Chavez-Huston is a special-education teacher, also have raised funds.

Also, on Sunday, July 1, during intermission of the Backwater Gamblers ski show, there will be a memorial where those in attendance can put flower petals into the Rock River to honor the life of little Maci. The Facebook Page for the event, entitled “Flower Petals for Maci”, says to “bring any kind of flower pedals to place in the water at intermission and watch them all float away peacefully in tribute.”

That Backwater Gamblers show will begin at 6:30 p.m. at 5000 44th St., Rock Island.

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