GALESBURG — Sandy Halsne was standing inside the Galesburg Public Safety Building on Saturday evening when she knew something terrible had happened to her only son.
Tyler Smith had not been seen since late Friday evening, when Halsne came to town to report him missing.
“I was standing in the lobby, waiting, and there was this pizza delivery guy waiting there,” Halsne said in an interview Monday. “I was pretty upset, and the guy said to me, ‘You must be here about the guy in Cedar Fork.’
“Right then I just knew. I just knew it was bad.”
According to a Galesburg Police Department news release, the just-turned 23-year-old Smith was found unresponsive at just before 7 p.m. Saturday in the bottom of Cedar Fork, roughly 75 yards east of Academy Street.
An autopsy revealed the cause of death as drowning, and the report said Smith suffered no trauma. Foul play is not suspected.
“I have not seen the complete report yet,” Halsne said. “And I haven’t seen my son.
“The police told me that when they were finished I would meet with the detective and they would take me to the scene.”
Halsne cleared up some of the information released earlier about her son. She said the 2014 graduate of Rochelle Township High School enrolled in the Army National Guard in December 2013, during his senior year.
After graduating from Western Illinois University with a degree in criminal justice and a minor in homeland security, Smith was to attend the San Jose Police Academy in California. He lived there for part of the summer and was slated to move to Concord, Calif., in just a few days.
Halsne said that on Friday her son drove from Rochelle to Macomb to spend time with friends in his National Guard unit and finish details of his transfer to California.
“He planned to stay in Galesburg with a friend from drill,” Halsne said. “I just have no idea how he ended up where he was.”
Cedar Fork is a concrete canal that acts as a giant stormwater ditch and runs northeast to southwest through Galesburg and runs parallel to the BNSF railroad tracks.
A person walking north on Academy Street spotted the person in Cedar Fork and called authorities, who later arrived and found the person dead.
Smith was with a friend at a local tavern Friday night and was last seen leaving the bar alone and on foot at about 11:30 p.m. Friday.