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Father Faces Neglect Charges After Sons Die In Kankakee River

CHICAGO (CBS) -- An Indiana father faces charges of negligence after his two little boys died in the Kankakee River.

CBS 2's Roseanne Tellez reports from the Lake County Sheriff's Department in Crown Point.

The mother said she was with the dad hours earlier when they picked up their four-year-old at school. She went to work and said she doesn't know what went so tragically wrong but she is standing by the boys' father.

Relatives said they were happy go lucky. Two-year-old Evan Patillo and his big brother Levi, who was four. He had just started preschool last week.

"They're everything to me and I want them back," said their mother Savannah Sanders.

But their young lives ended in the Kankakee River where they were last seen by two fisherman who said their dad Eric Patillo, now facing charges of neglect, seemed incoherent.

"He started poking himself with the fishing hook and nodding off," said Duilan Sherwood. "I don't even think he was aware his kids were in the water."

The fishermen called 911 and went back to their spot. When they returned to check on the boys moments later, they found a horrible scene.

"That's when I noticed there were knees and hands in the water. So I just dropped everything in my hands and took off running," said Anthony Kyle.

Kyle showed CBS 2 the area where he pulled one boy from the water.

"That's when the police showed up to do CPR as we were pulling the second boy out," said Sherwood.

The dad in the water just feet away the whole time.

"All he was doing was saying 'God why.'"

The children's mother and aunt said the father loved his boys.

"It would have never been done intentionally," said Sanders.

"Whatever happened, none of us can speculate because we weren't there," said the boys' aunt Karlena Nelson.

Lake County Sheriff's Office is asking for the public's help in finding Jesse Brandon Lintner, a friend of Patillo's who was at the scene and who they hope can help explain what happened.

The father was tested for drugs and alcohol. Pending the outcome of those tests, the counts against him could increase.

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