Three Men Die Igniting ‘Black Powder Substance’ on Riverbank at Illinois State Park

by Madison Miller

On Thursday, May 6, three men were killed in an explosion at a bridge near Starved Rock State Park in Illinois.

Police responded to the incident at around 7:30 p.m. and found three bodies along the riverbank. The men were supposedly fishing and relaxing when they ignited an explosive substance of some sort.

According to the Daily Herald, authorities and the FBI had collected a sample of some kind of black powder substance from the scene. At the moment, it is going through testing and a long investigation process. However, authorities are also stating that this appears to be an isolated incident and that the three men were not attempting any kind of malicious attack. It’s currently considered a very unfortunate accident.

The reports of the incident also indicate that the remnants of the explosive are not from the nearby demolition project used to take down Route 178 bridge. Autopsies were set to take place on Friday to get a better idea of what occurred near Starved Rock.

The La Salle County coroner’s office, the Utica Police Department, Utica Fire-EMS, the Illinois State Police, the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Conservation Police, Illinois State Police Crime Scene services, the Kane County Bomb Squad, and the FBI all responded to this potential bomb threat on Thursday.

The identities of the men are unavailable until the families of the deceased are properly notified.

In 2006, a 14-year-old boy died at Starved Rock after falling off a 65-foot canyon. He had left the marked trail, climbed a fence, and then slipped on some wet sandstone. Similarly, a 26-year-old man died in 2020 after falling at Wildcat Canyon located in the state park. Many of the injuries reported tend to be those who do not follow the marked path and trails.

Most Dangerous National Parks

Unfortunately, deaths reported at state parks, shorelines, and national parks have become all too common in the news.

Although these preserved nature locations are stunning, there are ways in which they have proven to be just as deadly. According to Forbes, since 2010, there have been more than a thousand people who have died for different reasons while out adventuring in the country’s national parks.

The Grand Canyon in Arizona had the most visitor deaths in the last 10 years. The total was 134. Close behind was Yosemite at 126, which is another widely popular national park. The Great Smoky Mountains, Yellowstone, and Denali all had a number of deaths as well. Although Denali has far fewer visitors, it still managed to have 51 deaths since 2010.

The U.S. national parks attract over 3 billion people every year. Given the comparison, most people are safe as long as proper precautions play a part in the trip. Many people die from tragic accidents like falls or medical/natural deaths. Suicides, wild animal attacks, homicide, and environmental factors were all cited causes of death in parks but were not as common.