It appears likely an elderly Peoria Heights woman drove her car into the Illinois River in Chillicothe and drowned last week.


It appears likely an elderly Peoria Heights woman drove her car into the Illinois River in Chillicothe and drowned last week.

Lois Hundemer, 71, of 5199 N. Prospect Road, was reported missing by her family to the Peoria Heights PoliceDepartment  Oct. 27.

Peoria County Coroner Johnna Ingersoll said Monday morning that an autopsy Saturday concluded Hundemer likely died of drowning.

“There was no other evidence of trauma,” Ingersoll said.

Ingersoll said toxicology tests are pending.  

Peoria Heights police chief Dustin Sutton said it appears Hundemer drove her car into the Illinois River at the foot of Walnut Street.

The car and Hundemer’s body were located there about 2:30 p.m. Friday.

Sutton said Hundemer had told family members she might take just such an action in the past.

But, Peoria Heights police were not notified of Hundemer’s threats until late Thursday afternoon.

On Friday morning, Sutton said, his department, the Chillicothe Police Department, Peoria County Sheriff’s Department, Illinois Conservation Police and the Peoria County Underwater
Rescue Team converged on the spot.

The vehicle was located using sonar along the shoreline by the Illinois Conservation Police.

A vehicle-sized object was found about 200 feet south of the Walnut Street ramp.

Once the vehicle was located, the underwater rescue team went in and recovered Hundemer’s body.

Tazewell Towing arrived with a heavy recovery unit and removed the car from the river.

Both the coroner and deputy coroner arrived at the scene during the recovery.

CPD officers were in charge of scene security and taping off the scene.