Alton Telegraph (Newspaper) - May 18, 1999, Alton, Illinois
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Vol. 164, No. 123 - 50 cents _ Tuesday, May 18,1999 www.thetelegraph.com
Teachers and administrators at the three schools Andrea Sweeney attended in her short life all used one word when describing the 8-year-old who drowned in Piasa Creek Sunday afternoon: sweet.
“She was really a sweet little girl,” said Mae Kasten, Andrea’s first-grade teacher at Eastwood School in East Alton. “She was very pleasant to have in class.”
Andrea, the daughter of Martisha Whitlock of East Alton and William Sweeney, apparently stepped into a deep pool with a swift current around 4 p.m. Sunday at Piasa Creek near the West Delmar overpass. She had apparently been swimming with a baby sitter, her brother and sister and five other children.
Her body was recovered from the creek later Sunday evening. The time of her death
■■■.............................. has been set at 6:46
Andrea had been attending school in the East Alton Elementary District for only two months after moving from the Roxana School District.
Kasten said she heard a televised newscast about the drowning before school Monday morning, but was uncertain if the victim mentioned was Andrea because an incorrect first name was given. She said her fears were confirmed when she saw The Telegraph article Monday about the accident.
“I was shocked and very saddened,” Kasten said.
In her 22 years of teaching in East Alton, this is the first death of a current student for Kasten.
Kasten, along with school social worker Patti Sontag, explained to the class of 23, 6-
.shocked and very saddened.”
■ See SWEET, Page A-7
Sweet’ girl is remembered
Teachers, pupils recall drowning victim fondly
By ANGELA MUELLER
Telegraph staff writer
. . , , , , , The Telegraph/JOHN BADMAN
A pair of sandals in the sand under the West Delmar Avenue overpass across Piasa Creek north of Godfrey lie near the footprints of rescue workers and divers who scurried to locate the body of 8-year-old Andrea Sweeney, who drowned in the creek Sunday.
Authorities will investigate drowning case
By SANFORD J. SCHMIDT
Telegraph staff writer
EDWARDSVILLE — Authorities may go before a grand jury May 27 in the case of a baby sitter who was in charge of eight children when one of them drowned Sunday in Piasa Creek.
“We are going to investigate the case and the circumstances under which she was baby-sitting these children,” Capt Don Spaul of the Madison County Sheriff’s Department said Monday.
Andrea Sweeney, 8, drowned after stepping off a sandbar into deep water in Piasa Creek. The Madison County Coroner’s Office conducted an autopsy Monday and confirmed the cause of death as drowning.
Andrea and her two brothers were with baby sitter Nancy Ash and five other children about 4 p.m.
Spaul said Ash recently moved from the 300 block of Ohio Street in East Alton, where the Sweeney family lived.
Andrea is the daughter of Martisha Whitlock, 24, of the 300 block of Ohio Street and William M. Sweeney, 28, who is being held in the Madison County Jail on an April 18 charge of attempted arson.
Ash had moved to Alton recently, Spaul said. She took her own two children, Andrea, Andrea’s two brothers and three other children from Alton on the swimming trip. Spaul said Ash has cooperated with authorities and is apparently
extremely upset over the death of the child.
He said taking eight children swimming in that area was a very risky thing to do, but Ash has not explained why she did it.
“I don’t know why people do the things they do,” Spaul said.
Passersby said Sunday that some of the children appeared out of control, and Ash appeared to be hysterical while Andrea was beneath the surface of the creek.
Witnesses described the creek as having a fast, deep current carrying lots of debris
Roger Beavers, 34, of Dorsey, and Blake Hamer, 17, and Devon Peipert, 18, both of Alton, said they entered the water to search for the children after Ash told them she could not swim.
By LINDA N. WELLER
Telegraph staff writer
ALTON — Demolition of one of the city’s old, oddly shaped buildings began Monday.
Wrecking crews began early, tearing down the former Wedge Tavern, 1510 E. Broadway, to make way for “parking and green space,” said owner Ed Sholar Jr.
“It will make more parking for us,” said Sholar. “There is a (parking) lot behind it. We will take the building down and make a parking lot. That will open it up for people to see the Bon-Air a lot easier” from Broadway.
Sholar, who bought the property in December from Mike Molloy of Alton, owns the popular Fast Eddie’s Bon-Air tavern, 1530 E. Fourth St., which
A demolition crew from Midwest Tavern at the intersection of East
is across the street from the demolition site.
He said he expects to gain IO to 15 additional parking spaces from the property. Sholar said he plans to plant grass and shrubs on some of the land, particularly on the “point,” which juts out where Fourth Street runs into Broadway.
Last winter Sholar had said
The Telegraph/JOHN BADMAN
Grinding and Recycling in Alton made quick work of the Wedge Broadway and East Fourth Street in Alton on Monday.
he was not sure what he was going to do with the Wedge building.
“It was too small to operate as a bar, so I decided to tear it down,” he said Monday.
Sholar said he sold the bar furnishings to another tavern owner in Alton. Sholar said no notable relics have turned up during the demolition of the old tavern, which is expected to
last only a few days.
Sholar said he is negotiating with the city of Alton to swap a 14-foot wide segment of land in the middle of the property — the site of the old city scales — with a nearby easement he has.
A Fast Eddie’s sign sits on the easement. He said the city wants to use the space to erect a “Welcome to Alton” sign.
Firefighters rescue man from barge hole
By KERRY SMITH
Telegraph staff writer
HARTFORD - Thanks to the expertise of five dedicated Hartford Fire Department volunteer firefighters, East Alton resident Shawn Burns is safe at home.
Burns, 27, survived a fall into a barge compartment at National Maintenance and
I Good Morning • I
Farrell, Finke, Guthrie,
Kirchner, Lowry, Meyers,
Retherford, Russo, Sander,
Audi, Brown, Brumley,
Repair Inc. on Monday morning. He underwent extensive tests for possible back and other injuries after he was extricated from a 12-foot-deep, 18-inch-wide hole within a barge that he was repairing at the site.
Hartford Fire Capt. John Grigg said he and four other
■ See RESCUE, Page A-7
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