A Northwestern University crew team member was found dead hours after falling overboard while rowing in the North Shore Channel on Monday morning in north suburban Lincolnwood.
University officials announced Monday night that authorities had recovered the body of Mohammed Ramzan, a 19-year-old freshman from Auburn, Washington.
“We extend our deepest condolences and heartfelt sympathies to Mohammed’s family and friends for this tragic loss,” NU vice president for student affairs Patricia Telles-Irvin said in a statement. “The loss affects us all, and we urge all members of our community to reach out and support one another.”
Seven other rowers and a coxswain were in a rowboat with Ramzan when they started practice about 7:30 a.m. at the Skokie Park District Rowing Center at McCormick Boulevard and Oakton Street, university officials said.
He fell into the water near McCormick and Pratt Avenue, where police and fire rescue units searched into the night.
A coach in a separate boat and another team member went into the water to try to rescue the student, but they were unsuccessful. They were taken to a hospital for evaluation after being in the frigid water, Lincolnwood Deputy Fire Chief Ray White said.
The search effort had shifted to a “search and recovery operation” before officials announced about 9:30 p.m. that Ramzan’s body had been recovered.
An autopsy Tuesday found he drowned, and his death was ruled an accident, according to the medical examiner’s office.
“As we remember Mohammed, we must be intentional about taking care of each other,” Telles-Irvin said. “This is a time for pulling together and supporting one another.”
The school urged students to seek help from its counseling and psychological services on campus.
“Mohammed will be remembered as one of Northwestern Crew’s most [perseverant] athletes and friendliest faces,” the NU crew team said in an Instagram post. “We will miss him dearly. We send our deepest condolences to Mohammed’s friends and family.”
Crew is a club sport, not a varsity sport at Northwestern, but the university statement said there have been club crews since the 1980s, and “no serious incidents have occurred during that time.”