Body of Northwestern crew member who fell overboard found in Lincolnwood river

Michelle Gallardo Image
Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Northwestern crew member missing; recovery effort underway in Lincolnwood
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Recovery teams searched the North Shore Channel in north suburban Lincolnwood Monday morning for a member of the Northwestern University crew team who fell into the water.

LINCOLNWOOD, Ill. (WLS) -- The body of a 19-year-old Northwestern University crew team member who fell into the water was recovered Monday night, the university said in a statement.

The university identified the student as 19-year-old Mohammed Ramzan, a first-year student from Auburn, Wash.

Ramzan was found in the North Shore Channel in north suburban Lincolnwood after he fell into the water at about 7:30 a.m. near Pratt Avenue and McCormick Boulevard.

Mohammed Ramzan

The team launched early Monday morning from the Skokie Park District Rowing Center near Oakton Street and McCormick, about a mile and a half away from where search crews spent most of Monday, officials said. Officials said the team often practices in this area.

Nine people were in the shell - eight team members and a coxswain, who calls the strokes. One of the nine, along with a coach, went into the water after Ramzan fell. The shell did not capsize.

"There were a couple of boats in the vicinity. There was also a coach in a motorized boat in the area as well. There was only one member of the team who fell over. Apparently the coach and a member of the team went in to try and get him. I don't have any information other than that," said Alan Cubbage, Vice President for University Relations, Northwestern.

Officials said the crew team does not wear life jackets or personal flotation devices due to the nature of the sport. A life jacket or flotation device would restrict movement.

Illinois State Police led the investigation. Emergency crews were dispatched from several north suburbs.

Crew is a club sport at Northwestern, not a varsity sport. Officials said the university has had a club crew since the 1980s. In that time, there had been no serious incidents.

"We put the boats in the water with sonar, and that gives us the best possibility of making a find," said Chief Jim Walters, Skokie Fire Dept.

With over 40 members, Northwestern University's crew team is the largest club sport on campus.

Severe weather delayed the search for a couple of hours Monday afternoon as crews waited for lightning to pass. The strong current and murky waters contributed to the difficulty of their task.

"Lack of information has been our biggest problem - where the person went into the water," Walters said. "We never got a solid definition of where they went into the water, so working kind of blind that way. We're doing the best we can, and that just makes the area a lot bigger that we have to cover."