Father of boys that drowned may have been under the influence of drugs

August 23, 2018

Daily Journal staff report

Witnesses told authorities Eric J. Patillo might have been under the influence of drugs about the time his two sons drowned in the Kankakee River in Lake County, Ind., on Tuesday.

Evan Patillo, 2, and Levi Patillo, 4, were pulled from the river by fishermen, according to media reports.

Levi was pronounced dead at St. Anthony’s Hospital in Crown Point, Ind. Evan was taken to Riverside Medical Center in Kankakee, where he was pronounced dead, according to authorities.

The boys were pulled from the river at the LaSalle Fish and Wildlife Area, near the Newton County and Lake County line, according to reports.

Witnesses told investigators Patillo appeared to be going in and out of consciousness.

Authorities are awaiting the results of drug and alcohol tests, which are pending, Lake County Sheriff Oscar Martinez said during a news conference on Wednesday. His department is assisting in the criminal investigation for the Indiana Department of Natural Resources, which is investigating the drownings.

In May, Eric J. Patillo, 34, of Thayer, pleaded guilty to felony heroin possession in Newton County, according to Newton County Superior Court records.

His 18-month sentence was suspended, and he was put on probation. As part of the plea agreement, Patillo was ordered to continue with substance abuse treatment.

Patillo was arrested late Tuesday after being questioned by investigators. He was booked on two counts probable cause charges of felony neglect of dependent resulting in death.

Martinez said police want to question 31-year-old Jesse B. Lintner as a witness about what happened. Witnesses told investigators Lintner was with Patillo before the boys were pulled from the water.

According to reports, two fishermen on land called 911 concerned about the two boys safety. They said there were two men also in the area, according to DNR.

With officers en route, a second 911 call was made about 15 minutes later reporting the boys had been pulled from the river and were unresponsive.

The fishermen said Patillo was jumping in the water, and they started looking for the boys.

One boy was found floating in the water, and the second was found under the water near a boat ramp, according to the DNR.

When Lake County officers arrived, Newton deputies and EMS personnel were attempting to revive the two boys, Martinez said.

Update hourly