Coast Guard honors four in Illinois River rescue, including IVCHS graduate
Four people honored Thursday for saving the life of a man with the Peoria County underwater rescue team shook off any praise and said it was training and teamwork that led to a happy ending.
But Capt. Byron L. Black, the regional U.S. Coast Guard’s sector commander, saw it very differently.
“Life is good and it’s even better because of this incredible team here in Peoria,” he said.
At a ceremony at the Fondulac Park District office in East Peoria, the U.S. Coast Guard honored two divers, Joshua Jeffries, 28, of Morton and Brett J. Cahill, 32, of Brimfield for saving fellow diver Ed Feldshau, 48, of East Peoria on March 19. Also honored were Park District Police Chief Michael Johnson and Officer Shannon L. Sheridan.
Lt. Micah Bonner, the head of the U.S. Coast Guard’s East Peoria station, said the certificates of merit are the third- highest award given to a civilian involved in life-saving efforts.
“They are rare,” he said. “In my 11 years, I have only attended three of these ceremonies.”
The dive team was called to a boat ramp near Captain Ron’s restaurant in Creve Coeur to help retrieve a car that had rolled into the river. Feldshau was attaching a cable to the car underwater when he became entangled. In the process, his face mask was pulled off in the murky water.
Jeffries and Cahill jumped into the water to help their colleague, who was weighed down with gear and unresponsive. Sheridan and Johnson were on a park district boat that was assisting with the rescue and pulled the three men to shore.
Jeffries, a paramedic with the Morton Fire Department, said it was “a team effort.”
Sheridan, who drove the park district’s rescue boat that day, said it was a matter of “being in the right place at the right time.”
Coast Guard officials said the actions of the four people were “above and beyond” their normal duties.
Editor’s note: Joshua Jeffries is an Illinois Valley Central High School graduate.