Two Iowa State University students are dead after a drowning accident on Little Wall Lake north of Ames, Iowa, the home of the school. The two deceased young men were among five members of the Iowa State University crew club who were rowing on the lake in near-freezing temperatures and at a time when wind gusted up to 30 miles per hour. The boat, technically known as a shell, carried four rowers and a coxswain.
Emergency services were immediately called at the time of the accident. Residents that lived at or near the lake are credited for early rescue issues. Directly after the capsizing of the boat or shell, these lake-area residents sprang into action. They are credited for extracting the three surviving students from the ice-cold water. At the time they began their rescue efforts, the two crew club members who died in the incident were nowhere to be found.
The three students who survived the accident were transported to a local hospital. They were released after being treated for what evidently were minor injuries. There names have not been released to the public at this time.
The students were practicing early on a Sunday morning at the lake located about 15 miles from the Iowa State University campus. The students’ boat capsized for reasons yet to be identified by investigators. The possibility exists that the wind gusts played a role in the deadly rollover.
Three students survived the capsizing. The body of one of the students who died in the drowning accident was found later in the day by a rescue diving team. The body of the second student killed in the drowning accident was not found until the day after the tragic incident. The names of the two crew club members have not been released to the public of media pending notification of family members.
The medical examiner’s office has released little information about the deaths of the pair of students as of this time. Nonetheless, there is an early indication that the low water temperature likely contributed to the deaths of the two young men. The air temperature was just above freezing at the time of the catastrophic accident. This may spur additional investigation into the propriety and safety of a university-sanctioned sports club practicing in adverse weather conditions. The focus on the inherent dangers of rowing or otherwise boating or recreating in freezing temperatures will be a part of the inquiry.
Iowa State University President Wendt Wintersteen issued a statement in the aftermath of the deaths of the two crew members. In her statement, the university President stated “The Iowa State community is heartbroken to learn of this tragic accident at Little Wall Lake. At this time, we are focused on providing support to club members, their families and friends. We ask that everyone keep them in their thoughts during this very difficult time.”
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