Friends ID body pulled from Chicago River as missing boater

A body was recovered Friday afternoon from the South Branch of the Chicago River.

The body was found shortly after 1 p.m. near the 2800 block of South Damen where the river enters the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal, according to Chicago Police.

Friends say the body is the boater who's been missing since Memorial Day.

It's been four days since Alberto Lopez fell into the water while boating with friends. Three members of the Chicago Fire Dive Team went to hospitals while searching for him -- including one veteran member who lost his life.

Friends believe the discovery of the body brings them a step closer to bringing the chapter to a close.

Hope in their hearts and minds, friends of 28-year-old Lopez watched Friday as Chicago police pulled a body from the Chicago River.

“The family always expected he was still alive or something,” said Fernando Reyes. “It's very sad to find your friend dead now.”

Lopez went missing on memorial day, falling off the boat he and friends were riding on the river, triggering a response from Chicago Fire Department divers, including veteran member Juan Bucio.

At some point during the search, Bucio lost contact with his partner and went under water. He was eventually pulled out and rushed to Stroger Hospital where he died.

Firefighters in mourning put up purple bunting outside Engine 13 as rescue crews continued a week long search for Lopez’s body.

Friends, looking themselves, say they found the body less than 2 miles from where Lopez went missing.

“They seen him and he had on some shorts with red stripes and that's what it was,” Fernando said.

Lopez had a fiancé in Mexico along with two kids. Friends say he came to America, working construction jobs to save money.

Close friends planned to travel with him in December back to his native country for his wedding.

“He was a good working man. He wasn't a bad person. He just wanted something better for his family,” said Ricardo Sanchez.

The body has not been positively identified by police or the office of the Medical Examiner pending an autopsy.

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