Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

Local News

September 14, 2009

Teen dies from apparent accidental drowning

COWDEN — A rural Effingham teen died from an apparent accidental drowning in the Kaskaskia River Sunday afternoon, according to Shelby County Coroner Brian Green.

The Shelby County Sheriff's Office received a report at 3:02 p.m. Sunday a person had gone underwater and not resurfaced in the river near the covered bridge east of Cowden.

Divers located the body of 16-year-old Justice Steele at 6:15 p.m. a short distance from where he was last seen by family and friends who were also swimming in the river, according to Shelby County Sheriff's Office.

Shelby County Chief Deputy Coroner David Friese pronounced Steele dead at the scene. An autopsy was performed Monday, however, results are not yet available.

Steele was a junior at Effingham High School. Unit 40 Superintendent Dr. Dan Clasby said as a result of the death about 60 students at the school received counseling Monday morning and a few went home.

The district has a crisis team made up of counselors and social workers to deal with such situations. He said the team was scheduled to be on hand Monday afternoon also if needed.

In addition to sheriff's deputies, assistance were provided at the scene by Shelby County Dive Team, Shelby County Rescue Squad, Shelby Area Ambulance, Illinois Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police, Cowden Fire Protection District and First Responders, Effingham County Dive-Rescue Team, Shelby County Red Cross and Air Evac Rescue Helicopter.

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