Evanston Police Officer Sean O’Brien was recognized this evening by the Evanston City Council for rescuing a boy from the Des Plaines River while off-duty.

As Police Chief Richard Eddington recounted the incident, O’Brien, 26, an Evanston officer for four years, was driving home with his girlfriend on Tuesday afternoon, March 5, when he observed a young child running in the street with no adult supervision near the intersection of Miner Street and River Road in Des Plaines.

O’Brien also saw a couple of other drivers attempt to get the child’s attention without success and then proceed on. 

Officer O’Brien, concerned for the child’s welfare, continued to watch the child, exited his vehicle and proceeded toward the child on foot. O’Brien advised his girlfriend to call 9-1-1.

The child continued toward the edge of the Des Plaines River and, after picking up some snow, the child threw the snow into the river and proceeded to jump into the river and became submerged.  Officer O’Brien immediately jumped in the river and grabbed the child’s hand, pulling him out from below the water surface to safety. 

O’Brien carried the child to his vehicle where his girlfriend was, along with O’Brien’s dog.  The child appeared to be upset and was allowed to see the dog in hopes of calming the child. Within approximately a minute or two, emergency personnel from Des Plaines arrived on the scene and the child was turned over to them.  

It was learned that the child was a 7-year-old boy, who lives a block away from the river. The child was being watched by the grandmother and had left the house without the grandmother’s knowledge.

O’Brien said his actions were the same that any other officer in the police department would had done if faced with the same circumstances.

Top: Officer Sean O’Brien with Police Chief Richard Eddington.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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