The Dane County Sheriff’s Office recovered the body of a missing swimmer in Lake Mendota near the Porter Boat House on the University of Wisconsin campus Wednesday night.
The swimmer, identified as 20-year-old Richard L. De La Cruz, was swimming with two other friends outside boat house on the 600 block of Babcock Drive, when he separated from the others and did not resurface, the report from the Dane County Medical Examiner said.
Divers from the Dane County Sheriff’s Office found the body at 6:40 p.m., around three hours after the swimmer was reported missing, according to UW Police Department Spokesperson Marc Lovicott. Divers found the body in 15 feet of water under around six to eight feet of weeds, he said.
According to preliminary findings, the autopsy was consistent with accidental drowning, the DCME report said.
The Madison Fire Department and the Dane County Sheriff’s Office began searching for the swimmer after receiving a 911 call around 3:15 p.m., according to a MFD statement. Three people were swimming off the docks near the boat house when they noticed one person was missing, the statement said.
UWPD and MFD responded and sent out dive teams to search for the individual, and the Dane County Sheriff’s Office took control of the search around 5:15 p.m., the statement said. The search teams faced difficulty due to the high volume of weeds and poor visibility of the water, the statement said.
The investigation into the incident is ongoing, Lovicott said.
This is the first drowning in Lake Mendota near the UW campus area this year, Lovicott said.
Lovicott said the docks near the Porter Boat House are not a designated swimming area for UW students.
“We don’t have any hard laws or regulations about swimming near the boat house,” Lovicott said. “There are no lifeguards at the Porter Boat House, and [the university] discourages swimming in that area.”
Lovicott added the Memorial Union Terrace is the only designated swimming area on campus.
The university will likely release a safety advisory to students regarding swimming in the campus area sometime next week, Lovicott said.