A body pulled from Belmont Harbor this morning has been identified as that of a man missing since early Saturday, according to the Cook County medical examiner's office.
The body was found about 30 feet from the gate of Belmont Harbor, in an area police divers had been searching for Philip Patnaude, 28. The medical examiner's office identified the body as that of Patnaude this afternoon, a spokesman said about 3 p.m.
After the body was positively indentified, investigators told family members that it appeared Patnaude died trying to get out of the water, said Patnaude’s aunt, Barbara Moore.
“It was a tragic accident—it looked like he slipped in,” Moore said.
Patnaude apparently took off his jacket--which was found Sunday in Belmont Harbor—as he struggled to get out of the water, Moore said. When he was found, he still had his wallet, identification, keys and iPhone on him, indicating there likely was no foul play, she said.
“He died trying to save himself,” Moore said.
While relatives were not allowed to view the body at the scene, police told them they believed it was Patnaude based on his clothing and where he went missing, Moore said.
“They felt pretty sure based on what he was wearing,’’ Moore said. “Divers felt like they found him in an area where they thought he was trying to get out.’’
Moore complimented the police divers for their efforts. “We thank them so much. They each came up to us and talked to each family member after the body was found,’’ Moore said. “They were awesome -- they were out there all night.’’
The family is “relieved” that his body was finally found.
Patnaude disappeared early Saturday morning after telling friends he was headed to the lakefront. Family and friends said they found the Patnaude's jacket south of Belmont Avenue in the harbor on Sunday afternoon.
Patnaude was last seen about 2:30 a.m. Saturday in a cab near Wellington Avenue and Broadway, where he told a friend he was going to the lakefront, police said.
According to family members, Patnaude left the East Lakeview neighborhood where he and a large group of friends had been out drinking a little after 2 a.m. and took a cab to Belmont Harbor.
Many of the people who had been with Patnaude searched the lakefront in small groups Sunday afternoon. Loved ones posted updates using the hash tag (#findphilip) and set up a Facebook page to aid in the search.
Colette Patnaude, 23, of Downers Grove described her brother as a nature enthusiast and avid adventure seeker. "I think he wanted to go and look out at the water and take a walk," she said, describing her brother as outgoing and social.
Patnaude lived with his fiancée in the 3200 block of North Ashland Avenue in the Lakeview neighborhood on the North Side, graduated from the University of Illinois with a degree in aeronautical engineering and works for Sargent & Lundy, which offers consulting services to the energy industry.
Arrangements were pending.