A University of Wisconsin student active in the university’s popular First Wave program died Thursday after being pulled from Lake Mendota by rescue divers.
The Dane County Medical Examiner’s Office identified the man as John “Vietnam” Nguyen, 19, of Chicago.
UW Police, along with the Madison Police Department and Madison Fire Department, responded to a call at 6:49 a.m. for a possible drowning near the UW Limnology Building on North Park Street, according to a UWPD statement.
Preliminary autopsy reports cite an “accidental drowning” as the cause of death. The victim had been swimming with a group of people, UWPD Sgt. Aaron Chapin said.
Responders took five minutes to arrive at the scene, MFD spokesperson Eric Dahl said.
A boat from the Dane County Sheriff’s Office led divers from the fire department’s Lake Rescue Team, which conducted a search around the pier and found the victim within 15 minutes, an MFD statement said.
According to a UW statement, Nguyen was also a member of the First Wave Spoken Word and Hip Hop Learning Community, a multicultural artistic program for UW students.
His Facebook fan page, called “John Vietnam,” features YouTube videos of himself rapping and has more than 1,300 “likes.” One of his videos has been viewed more than 1,800 times.
Nguyen’s YouTube video for his First Wave audition, titled “A Day in the Life,” now has more than 7,000 hits.
“We’re deeply saddened by this tragic loss, which comes just before the beginning of a new semester,” UW Dean of Students Lori Berquam said in a statement. “We will be reaching out to those in the university community who knew this student to offer all of our help, support and condolences.”
Nguyen is the second person from the UW community to drown in Lake Mendota this summer. Recent graduate Matthew Roelse, 22, died June 22 after swimming with a friend in the early morning, according to a UW statement.