Grieving mother pleads for help finding son's remains after deadly train strike

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A teenage boy is still missing two days after a fatal train crash on a bridge in southwest suburban Joliet.

Crews have been searching a two-mile stretch of Hickory Creek, downstream from a bridge where one teen was fatally struck by a Metra Rock Island train and another was knocked off into the water, Metra spokesman Michael Gillis said.

The deadly crash happened near Lincoln Highway about 7 p.m. Wednesday when four teenagers were caught on a bridge as a westbound train approached them, a Metra spokesperson said.

One of the victims, 17-year-old Jacob A. Manka of Mokena, was pronounced dead at the scene, the Will County coroner’s office said. A preliminary autopsy found he died from the collision.

Two other juveniles were unharmed, a Metra spokesperson said. The search for the fourth person, a 15-year-old boy, continued as a recovery operation.

The boy’s family were helping with the search along the creek, according to East Joliet Fire Protection District Chief Robert Scholtes. Search teams have included as many as 100 personnel from 20 departments.

On Thursday, swift-water divers searched the river along with drones, K9s and people using inflatable rafts, Gillis said. Later that day, search parties limited searches to riverbanks due to dangerous currents.

Crews continued searching for the missing teen on Friday, but were limited to visual searches from land, Gillis said.

The search will continue on a day-to-day basis, depending on circumstances, Scholtes said. The East Joliet Fire Protection District is leading the recovery effort.