Body found in Chicago River identified as missing boater

CHICAGO — A body found in the Chicago River on Friday afternoon has been identified as Alberto Lopez, the boater who went missing on Memorial Day.

A Chicago firefighter was killed in the search for Lopez on Monday. Juan Bucio, 46, was  a father of two and 15-year veteran of the department. He became separated from his partner during the search and was pronounced dead at the hospital.

Authorities on Friday confirmed they found a male body in the south branch of the Chicago River near the 2800 block of South Damen Avenue around 1 p.m.

On Saturday, the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office identified the body as Alberto Roman Lopez Velarde; his cause of death was drowning. Friends said Lopez was 28; the medical examiner's office listed him as 29.

Friends of Lopez said they were searching for him when they spotted the body Friday.

"We finally found him,” Fernando Reyes said. “We're sad but then happy that we found him. His family has been waiting for him since Monday. We notified them.”

Reyes met Lopez last summer after the carpenter moved to Chicago from Mexico to support his family. The father of three who was engaged to be married in December went out on a boat with friends to celebrate Memorial Day.

“He went around Navy Pier, Downtown, and on their way back there was a big boat passing by,” Reyes said. “With the wake, he lost balance so just fell off.”

Friends said Lopez couldn't swim and went under within a few seconds.