Three More Victims Claimed by Sangamon; Youth Drowned Trying to Save Companion.
July 6, 1925 Illinois State Register

The Sangamon River today has three more victims marked against it as a result of swimming accidents Sunday. Two other persons narrowly escaped death by drowning Sunday at the spot where Everett McGary, 19 and Hershel Adams, 23, lost their lives in a swift undercurrent at Big Head beach, three and one-half miles northeast of Rochester. Malcolm Phillips, 67, 615 North Eighth street was drowned at 6 o'clock Sunday evening while swimming with two companions in the river below the dam at the waterworks.

McGary and Adams were drowned shortly before 2:30 o'clock. Adams, an inexperienced swimmer, going to his death in an effort to save his companion. Phillips is believed to have been the victim of a sudden heart attack, which seized him when he was an expert swimmer.

River Deep in Spots.
Two near tragedies marked the drowning of Adams and McGary. The river at the point where the accident occurred describes a sharp bend, and in spots is more than 15 feet in depth. The current is rapid and treacherous. With ten or a dozen companions. McGary had entered the water to escape the sweltering heat of the July afternoon.

Swimming into water where the undertow was too strong for him to combat, he was dragged beneath the surface. William Hall, 22, who home is near the beach, dived to his rescue. He succeeded in grasping his companion's body as the latter battled for life near the bottom of the river, and struggled vainly to bring it to the surface. He failed, and rose exhausted to the top. He was dragged to the bank by Edward Ferguson, who also lives nearby.

A few minutes before, Miss Hortense Graham, 18, of Kincaid, had become faint while swimming. Hall went to her rescue, assisting her to safety. Exhausted by this effort, he was unable to cope with the undertow and the weight of McGary's body, and only through Ferguson's help was able to escape with is own life.

Adams, at best an inexperienced swimmer, was wading in shallow water when McGary went down. He is believed to have lost his head in the excitement and, disregarding the danger to himself, attempted to rescue his companion. He was not missed until some time after McGary was drowned.

Drag River For Bodies
Two hours after the tragedy, McGary's body was recovered by Edward Thornley, R.R. No. 7, and Deputy Sheriff William Gowan, at a point twenty feet from where it sank. Adam's body was found shortly before 1 o'clock at a point fifteen feet beyond the spot where McGary's body lay. It was brought to the surface by Arthur Smith, 1031 West Eliott avenue, and Jack Neal, 1225 _ street, after five and one-half hours had been spent in dragging the river. The fact that both boys wore athletic sweaters and trousers while swimming was considered by relatives as largely contributory to their drowning.

Mr. and Mrs. Columbus McGary, parents of Everett McGary, witnessed the unsuccessful efforts to rescue their son from the water, but where unable to give a coherent account of how the accident happened. The lightning-like rapidity with which the accident occurred, Hall's brave attempt to drag his friend from the river, and Ferguson's subsequent rescue of Hall, happened in such confusing sequence that clear accounts of the events were difficult to obtain.

The entire party, consisting of Adams, McGary, Hall, Miss Graham, Edgar Thornley, Ferguson, and McGary's parents, had earlier in the day visited at the home of Mrs. Sophia Hall, mother of William Hall and aunt of McGary, northeast of Rochester. The beach was later visited, where the younger members of the party entered the water.

Bodies of the youths were removed to the Hall home, where an inquest was conducted by Coroner Ernest Dye at 11 o'clock this morning. A verdict of accidental death by drowning was returned. Funeral arrangements have not yet been completed.

McGary was a son of Mr. and Mrs. Columbus McGary, who live five miles east of Petersburg. He is survived by three brothers, Luther, Marshall and Loran.

Adams was the son of Mrs. Robert Brakebill, Petersburg. He is survived by his mother and step-father, a brother, Lee Adams, two step-brothers, Vernon and Uriel, and three step-sisters, Thelma, Rena, and Mary.

Transcribed by: Matthew


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