The GLT family is mourning the loss of former staff member Liz Larson, who died Saturday in a boating accident on the Kankakee River in Wilmington.
Larson, 36, of Normal, died after an inflatable boat she was in went over a dam on the Kankakee River around 4:30 p.m. Saturday, authorities said. Larson was pronounced dead in the Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center emergency room in Joliet, Will County Coroner Patrick O’Neil said in a statement.
A 6-year-old was also in the boat when the incident happened, but the child survived, said Illinois Department of Natural Resources spokesperson Ed Cross.
Larson’s preliminary cause of death was drowning, O’Neil said. A final cause of death is pending police, autopsy, and toxicology reports, O’Neil said.
A celebration of life is set for 1-4 p.m. Saturday at Illinois State University's Bone Student Center Old Main Room.
The Wilmington dam has been the site of numerous drownings in recent years, including two children on Memorial Day 2016. The children's family sued the city of Wilmington over the incident.
Larson was GLT’s corporate support director until earlier this month, when she left for a new job at the Hile Group. Larson was a friendly mainstay at GLT events, including this year’s GLT Summer Concert. Her community involvement included a leadership role with the McLean County Chamber of Commerce's NEXT Professionals program. She was honored in 2016 in The Pantagraph's 20 Under 40 awards.
Larson previously worked for Illinois State University’s Financial Aid Office and Office of Admissions. Earlier in her career, Larson worked as a producer for local TV stations in Peoria and Waterloo, Iowa.
"We're all shocked. Liz was a smart, vibrant contributor to the Illinois State and Bloomington-Normal communities," GLT General Manager R.C. McBride said Sunday. "'We're brokenhearted for her family and her many, many friends."
Carlo Robustelli, GLT’s former director of development, said Larson was a “joy to work with.”
“The more anyone got to know Liz, the more they understood what an extraordinary person she was, and how broadly and deeply she touched the lives at Illinois State, GLT, in Bloomington-Normal, and way beyond,” Robustelli said. “Liz had a vivacious personality, she was passionate for justice, and she provided selfless love for all those around her.”
Larson's family, friends, and colleagues are sharing condolences on social media, including these:
— Travis Huber© (@TravisAHuber) July 31, 2017
She is awesome. I refuse to use the past tense. Some people are so alive they can never die.
— Ryan Fiala (@ryanfiala) July 30, 2017