BELLE RIVE, IL — The Jefferson County Coroner has released the identity of the person who lost their life after a boat capsized in a pond in rural Belle Rive last Sunday. 66-year-old James Likens of Bonnie worked as a custodian and bus driver at Opdyke-Belle Rive Grade School and, according to his obituary, passed away while doing what he loved.
The Jefferson Fire Protection District says shortly after noon on December 19th, they received a report of a capsized fishing boat with two individuals, now known to have been Likens and Superintendent of the school Mike Miller in it. They activated their MABAS Division 47 water rescue resource card bringing in multiple water rescue resources. The location of the pond was very secluded, brushed in and only accessible by foot. Once on scene it was determined that Miller was out of the water and Likens had not surfaced. Personnel started working on the last point of Likens’ known location to relay that information to water rescue crews. A dive team from the Benton Fire Department arrived and two rescue divers went in the water to try to find Likens. Divers operated for 45 minutes up until boats arrived. At this point the rescue turned to a recovery. As additional resources arrived, a total of three boats were deployed with sonar and additional divers were used to further the search efforts. Illinois DNR was also on scene with a remote controlled sonar scanner. Multiple water crafts were able to find a target location and divers went back into the water and eventually confirmed Likens’ location. Dive crews were able to successfully recover his body from the water.
You can view the complete obituary for 66-year-old James Likens of Bonnie via this link https://www.wmix94.com/funerals/