Rockford, IL Levings Lake Drowning, July 1948

Youth Drowns While Wading In Park Lake

Sam Butero Came to Rockford 4 Months Ago from Italy

A youth who returned to America, the land of his birth, because his parents had told him what a wonderful country it is, drowned while wading in Levings lake about 3 p.m. yesterday. It was the only fatality reported here during the three-day Fourth of July holiday.

The youth, 19-year-old Sam Butero, 718 Blake Street, had been in Rockford only four months. He sank to his death in water nine feet deep, 25 feet from the park’s boathouse dock. Deputy Sheriff’s Gerald Pratt and Robert Getts said.

Butero, born in Rockford in 1929, was taken to Italy when he was 2 years old by his parents. Mr. and Mrs. Butero, a nautili zed citizen had fought with the American army during World war 1.

Young Butero’s uncle, Peter Zammuto, 722 Ashland avenue, said Sam had always wanted to return to America.

“He wanted to come home,” Zammuto said.

Couldn’t Swim

Vincent Roberto, 21, 428 Kent street, a friend of the victim, said he warned Butero yesterday not to wade to far out when he learned the youth was unable to swim.

Butero had been under the water about 15 minutes when his body was recovered by Benedict Shimkus, 28, 611 Brooke road, who is deaf and dumb, and Raymond DiMarco, East Chicago, Ind., who was visiting relatives here yesterday.

Attempts by Deputies Pratt and Getts to revive the youth by artificial respiration proved futile.

Deputies Frank Van Landeghein and Nick Parnello rushed to the lake with the department’s specially-equipped boat to search for drowning victim and found it wasn’t needed.

Fought Rescuers

Jesse R. Simms, 28, Fairfield, Ill., Negro youth, who was floating in an inner tube near the drowning victim and Billy Moorman, 201 Willard Avenue, who also was nearby, tried to rescue young Butero. They said he was “too frightened and fought too hard.”

Jesse R. Sims, 28, Fairfield, Ill., said he was some distance away when he heard Butero’s calls for help. “I thought at first he was joking as so many people do these days, but I swam as fast as I could when I saw he really meant it.” Samms said. He too, arrived too late.

Coroner David L. Kiontz investigated and said an inquest will be held later this week.

Butero, employed at the George D. Roper corporation as a grinder since he returned to Rockford is survived by his parents and two sisters, all in Italy. He was the only son.

Arrangements are being completed at the Gasparini and Oliveri funeral home, 820 Sanford Street.

Morning Star, Rockford, IL 6 Jul 1948