UW-Madison mourning loss of student after apparent drowning

Aug. 22, 2013

by Käri Knutson

The University of Wisconsin-Madison community is deeply saddened by the loss of a student who died in an apparent accidental drowning in Lake Mendota on Wednesday, Aug. 21.

Richard de la Cruz, 20, of Wauwatosa, was swimming with friends around 3 p.m. Wednesday near the Porter Boathouse along the Lake Mendota shoreline when he started struggling and went underwater. Students on shore immediately attempted to rescue him.

UW-Madison Police responded, as well as emergency crews and divers, led by Madison Fire and Rescue. At 5:30 p.m., the Dane County Sheriff's dive team continued the search with his body recovered around 6:40 p.m.

de la Cruz was a transfer student from Marquette University, new to UW-Madison.

"We offer our thoughts to his friends and family during this difficult time," says Dean of Students Lori Berquam. "It is an unimaginable loss and one that comes just before the start of a new school year."

The most recent student drowning in Lake Mendota was almost a year ago when John "Vietnam" Nguyen died.

If you are a student in need of counseling or crisis support as a result of this incident or any other situation, call University Health Services Counseling and Consultation Services at 608-265-5600 or drop in between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

If you need immediate assistance after hours or on weekends, please call the UHS Crisis Line at 608-265-5600, option 9, or visit the UHS counseling website

The university recognizes the situation can be distressing. Learn more about these reactions and coping strategies.

If you are a faculty/staff member and would like to talk to someone about your reactions, call the Employee Assistance Office at 608-263-2987 or visit its website.