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Searchers recovered the body of a Peru woman Thursday from the Illinois River, ending a search that began 13 days earlier when she was last seen next to her van on flooded Route 351 south of La Salle.
Nancy Greening, 62, was found at 10:22 a.m. about 70 yards downstream from where she was last seen and about a half-mile south of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, according to Illinois Department of Natural Resources and La Salle County Coroner’s Office.
Three state conservation officers patrolling the river in an airboat saw Greening’s body in woody debris, said Phil Wire, a state conservation officer. They called Peru River Rescue to assist recovering the body. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
DNR and coroner’s office continue to investigate the incident.
The day Greening was reported missing, an airborne NewsTribune photographer snapped a photo of Greening next to her van and a call went out to La Salle police. A La Salle police officer looked for but did not see the van from the La Salle side of the flooded road. An Oglesby police officer attempted to find the van from the other side and reported seeing an AT&T employee, leading authorities to conclude the vehicle was a white utility van.
It was not until officers saw the photo the next day that a river search was launched.
Authorities suspended their search April 26 to wait for the Illinois River to recede. The river near La Salle remained more than 4 feet above flood stage Thursday but was dropping.
Greening apparently was driving the van north on Route 351 toward La Salle, went past barricades blocking the flooded road and stopped on the roadway, according to authorities and the News Tribune photo. When the van was towed from the scene, it was tipped on a 45-degree angle with two wheels on the road and two wheels off the road, Wire said.
Nancy's husband, Bill Greening, stopped by the NewsTribune Friday to drop off a letter expressing his gratitude to all those who searched for his wife. See "Related Links" below to view the handwritten letter.