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Update 8:30 a.m. 4/11/17: The body of a Northwestern University crew team member who fell overboard during a practice session on the North Shore Channel Monday morning was recovered from the canal late Monday evening.

School officials identified the student as Mohammed Ramzan, 19, a freshman from Auburn, Washington.

Fire crews from Evanston and many nearby communities responded to the accident scene near Pratt Avenue in Lincolnwood.

The practice run began from the Skokie Park District’s Dammrich Rowing Center at 3220 Oakton St. in Skokie, about three miles north of the accident scene.

The accident happened about 7:35 a.m. and the search continued through the day.

Dive teams from several area fire departments searched the canal for the missing student.

University spokesman Alan Cubbage says crew is a club sport at the school. It’s been offered since the early 1980s and “no serious incidents” had occurred until now.

The racing shell was carrying eight rowers and a coxswain when the student fell overboard.

Cubbage says a coach in a separate boat and a member of the team went into the water in an effort to rescue the student. Two people were taken to the hospital after the incident.

NU’s vice president for student affairs, Patricia Telles-Irvin, said students could contact Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at 847-491-2151; the Dean of Students Office at 847-491-8430; or the Chaplain’s staff at 847-491-7256 for assistance in dealing with their reactions to the incident.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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9 Comments

  1. not a drill?

    my gosh, I drove by the scene at around 9:30 and there must have been at least 25 vehicles there including from as far away as Highland Park, Northfield and Winnetka.  I thought it was some kind of disaster drill

    1. rowers aren’t required to

      rowers aren’t required to wear life jackets as they are to pass a swim test and the oars count as floatation safety devices.  The coaches in the accompanying motor boat do carry life jackets

      1. safety first?

        Well….just as a matter of logic and concern for anyone in the water, (and, as a parent), I would certainly think/hope that activities on vessels would require a vest.  Also….the fact that the coaches in the motor boats had life jackets did absolutely no good iin this situation.  Once someone is in the water and goes down, it seems a bit after the fact in that safety measure.

  2. Tragically Odd

    I would think that an eight-man crew would be able to locate a fellow crew member who has fallen overboard. The canal is not that wide. Additionally, I operate under the assumption that one who takes a liking to rowing would know how to swim, no?

    Either way, what a sad story…

    1. An 8s boat is 60ft long, and

      An 8s boat is 60ft long, and the oars are about 12 ft long. They move pretty fast at full speed and someone who falls in while the boat is moving could get hit by an oar and/or have the boat go over them, lose consciousness, and sink rapidly. It’s not like just “falling in”. And that water is completely opaque.

      Very sad.

      1. swift current

        Typically a body would float rather than sinking. Other articles describe a swift current that day. A swift current is unusual for the canal, only happening after significant rain, though it can continue for a few days if there was enough rain. I can’t help but wonder whether that was a factor. Current can push a body into obstructions, such as downed tree branches, and then hold it underwater. Consider that despite the current, the body was found 10 or 12 hours later very near where the accident occurred. Something must have kept it from being carried downstream.

  3. so very sorry

    My heart and prayers go out to Mr. Ramzan’s family and other members of the team. I have no doubt that all tried their utmost best to save this young man.

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