NORTH UTICA, Ill. (AP) — Three men who died after apparently igniting an explosive powder near northern Illinois’ Starved Rock State Park appeared to have been fishing along a river before the blast killed them, the coroner said.
LaSalle County Coroner Rich Ploch said the men were apparently relaxing while fishing along the Illinois River on Thursday evening before the “black powder substance” was ignited in a hole.
He said there was no device involved in the explosion, although black powder can be used to make fireworks.
Ploch theorized the men had either lit the powder for entertainment or, more likely, they were trying to light a fire to cook food that was found nearby.
He told the Chicago Sun-Times on Friday that the men suffered “pretty extensive injuries,” and autopsies were planned. He said that no foul play was suspected in the deaths and their names were not expected to be released until the middle of next week.
The explosion, which occurred about 75 miles southwest of Chicago, remains under investigation by several agencies, including Illinois State Police and the FBI.
ORIGINAL STORY — MAY 7
NORTH UTICA, Ill. (AP) — Three people died after apparently igniting a “black powder substance” and causing an explosion near a state park in northern Illinois, a coroner said.
First responders were called to an area along the Illinois River west of a Starved Rock State Park boat ramp where they they discovered three dead males around 7:20 p.m. Thursday, authorities said. Black powder was the original gunpowder and can be used to make fireworks.
“With assistance from the (Illinois) State Police, the Kane County Bomb Squad Unit & the FBI, it was determined that the individuals appeared to have ignited a type of black powder substance along an area near the riverbank,” LaSalle County Coroner Rich Ploch said.
The three died from injuries they received in the explosion, Ploch said. Autopsies were planned.
The victims’ names have not been released.
The explosion occurred about 75 miles southwest of Chicago.