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Monday, August 15, 2011

EXCLUSIVE: Homeless Man Drowns In Madison's Lake Mendota (UPDATED)

August 15, 2011 - Madison WI - EXCLUSIVE - A homeless man, 37, drowned in Lake Mendota this afternoon. The man, who went by the name of "Teddy," was swimming about 100 feet off shore at the end of the 600 block of N. Henry Street when he "just disappeared." Witnesses who were swimming with Teddy told Homeless Patriot that Teddy was naked and had "been drinking."

Update, August 17: The Dane County Medical Examiner's Office has identified "Teddy" as Nathan Eugene Russell, 37, of Charleston, South Carolina.

At the time of this writing (4:00 p.m.), two police SCUBA divers were searching the murky water where Teddy was last seen. The first vehicle to respond was a U.W. Rescue boat, which was floating about 100 feet off shore when police and fire units arrived at 3:35 p.m.

Teddy was with six or seven other homeless people, who appeared to be in their early to mid-twenties. One of the homeless swimmers said that they did not know Teddy's real name, but he had told them he was from Charlotte Charleston, South Carolina*. He took off all of his clothing before getting into the water. This made is possible for the police to retrieve any wallet and identification that Teddy might have had with him. (HP did not learn whether his ID was in his clothing.)

"He just disappeared in the water," one of his swimming mates told HP. Madison Fire Department and Police arrived at approximately 3:25 p.m., with two boats in tow. One was pulled by a MFD ambulance. The scene of the drowning is at the end of N. Henry Street, which is just north of Langdon Street. Langdon is known as "Fraternity Row" because it is lined with fraternity and sorority houses. Henry Street ends at a steep downgrade just before the water. Rescue personnel had to lower light equipment, including a gurney and SCUBA gear, down a winding wooden stairway to the lake's edge.

A badly flawed report by JSOnline.com quoted Madison Fire Department spokeswoman Lori Wirth as saying that "After 10 minutes, a victim was pulled from the water." This is very inaccurate. Homeless Patriot watched the rescue personnel for at least 20 minutes after they arrived on the scene. The actual time it took to pull "the victim" from the water was close to 30 minutes. JSOnline also incorrectly reported that there is "no information on the victim was available at this time." As reported here, he is in his late 30s, went by the name of Teddy, was homeless and said he was from South Carolina. Additionally, JSOnline incorrectly said that "Divers searched the lake off the Lake Street ramp," when in fact they were about a quarter of a mile away on N. Henry Street (see map).

WISC TV had a better report, "Divers Pull Man's Body From Lake Mendota Off North Henry Street." They posted 43 minutes after Homeless Patriot broke the story here.

This is the second time within a month that Homeless Patriot has scooped Madison's media on local stories.

* I get it wrong too, sometimes. "SignPainterGuy" left a comment telling me this: "Just to pick a nit, I know you want all your info to be correct, not placing blame, but Charlotte is in NORTH Carolina." SignPainterGuy is absolutely correct. The error has been corrected and I humbly apologize for any confusion this might have caused.

Post Script: This post was reprinted in the September 2011 paper edition of Street Pulse.

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