Iowa Rowing Team Accident


photo courtesy of NBC News

Alexander Braga

Two Iowa State University rowing students were been killed in an accident that has been deemed  “preventable.” On a cold, windy March morning, five rowing students set out for Little Wall Lake where they have their weekly practice. No one would have expected tragedy to strike. As the students practiced, their boat capsized due to the conditions. The students then had to attempt to swim to shore in freezing, choppy water. Three students were rescued by onlookers, but two were not fortunate enough. Their bodies were recovered the weekend after the accident.


This type of event has been a long time coming, according to many people around the rowing team and the school. Last year in February, the team sent a letter to the ISU’s recreation services department stating, “as our club stands, it wouldn’t take much for someone to get seriously hurt.” The rowing team has been severely neglected by the university, with the club lacking several necessities. The team had been fervently asking for three things, “a dock, to have their boat repaired, and mandatory swim tests for all members.” Since that letter went out the team started holding swim tests, they have also been fundraising for a dock. But nothing has come of a new or repaired boat. 


Another preventable aspect of this accident is the weather on that fatal day. According to the club’s mandated rules, they cannot row if the wind is greater than 14 mph. People who were on the lake that day stated that the lake was like glass and there was very little wind. Club president Alexis Aurandt stated that, “the winds were forecasted to be 11 to 14 mph, and increase to 17 mph by 11 a.m.” Officials pegged the wind to be 20 to 25 mph at the time of the capsize. 


No one can say for sure if this accident could have been prevented, but there were many decisions and factors that could have been looked at beforehand. Nevertheless it is a tragic event that the school, the students, and rowers everywhere should learn from.