Crew Club mourns the loss of 'brothers,' as names of two Iowa State students who died Sunday are released
Yaakov Ben-David, an Iowa State University sophomore, and Derek Nanni, a freshman, were the two students who died after their crew scull capsized Sunday in cold and blustery conditions, authorities said.
They were members of the Iowa State Crew Club, who, along with three other club members, were practicing on Little Wall Lake.
“We didn’t just lose 2 rowers on Sunday; we lost 2 brothers,” the Crew Club posted on Facebook Tuesday afternoon. “Yaakov and Derek were family.”
The Hamilton County Sheriff's Office and ISU Police Department, which on Tuesday afternoon released the names of the two students who died, said they will not release the names of the three other students involved, to protect their privacy.
The club’s tragic practice set off a two-day recovery mission in the lake’s rough waters from multiple state and local law enforcement agencies. Officials recovered the body of one student Sunday evening; it took until Monday morning to recover the second missing student.
Ben-David was 20 and a sophomore accounting major from Washington, D.C. ISU records list him as a good student; he made the dean's list.
“When he walked away, you always remembered him,” said Cara Fuller, Ben-David's former high school principal. "We're so deeply in love with him," and so sad to hear of his death. "We were his family."
Nanni was 19 and a freshman chemistry major from Normal, Illinois.
At University High School in Normal, Nanni ran cross country and track and competed on the swim team, his former principal Andrea Markert told Illinois radio station WGLT. Markert told the station the school was "deeply saddened" and would "miss his jokes and his smile."
They were among a tight-knit group of club members who use the motto, “One Catch. One Boat. One Crew,” according to the club’s Facebook page. The club’s family extends to alumni and parents of former members, according to reactions to the club’s posting about the deaths.
The three other students were rescued with help from citizens who were around the lake Sunday. Hamilton County Sheriff Douglas Timmons said the citizens should be hailed as heroes and that they took risks themselves.
The three students were treated and released from Mary Greeley Medical Center, officials have said.
The Iowa State Crew Club, founded in 2002, is a recognized student organization. No prior rowing experience is necessary to join.
Little Wall Lake is slightly more than 18 miles from Lied Recreation Center on the Ames campus. The closest location for observed weather reports listed by the National Weather Services’ Des Moines office is Ames, and on Sunday, the average wind speed in Ames was 12.7 miles per hour.
The highest observed wind speed Sunday in Ames was 28 mph, with the highest observed gust at 39 mph, both from the northwest.
The ISU Police Department is working with the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office and other agencies to investigate the accident, a news release said.
Counseling services are being provided to students through the Division of Student Affairs.
“We extend our deepest condolences to the families and friends of the two students we lost on Sunday," Senior Vice President for Student Affairs Toyia Younger said in a statement Monday. "During this time of grief, I ask the entire Iowa State community to show compassion and support for one another. We know there are a lot of questions and we are working to provide answers, but this will take time."