Iowa State releases findings of reviews into fatal crew club accident

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AMES, Iowa — Iowa State University has released a summary of the findings of two separate reviews into the Crew Club’s fatal boating accident earlier this year that killed two students.

Iowa State University commissioned two reviews following the Iowa State Crew Club’s accident on Little Wall Lake in Hamilton County on March 28. Two Iowa State students, Derek Nanni and Yaakov Ben-David, died after their boat capsized while the club was practicing on the lake. Three other students in the boat survived.

One review was independent and external, while the other review was internal. Iowa State says both reviews into the accident identified similar safety concerns and recommendations.

The reviews found that Iowa State University’s implementation of safety policies for university sports clubs was deficient, which led to an inadequate level of health and safety oversight, training, and support for the Crew Club, as well as other higher risk sport clubs.

Both reviews concluded that the university failed to clearly define roles and responsibilities for effective oversight of sport clubs, which resulted in inadequate university safety oversight and supervision.

On the day of the accident, the Crew Club’s leadership failed to follow health and safety procedures outlined in the club’s constitution. According to the reviews, the following safety standards were not followed on March 28:

  • Wind speeds were acknowledged to be outside of acceptable limits by Crew Club student leaders just prior to the on-water activity occurring, but the activity was not cancelled.
  • Crew Club student leadership failed to adequately respond to worsening weather conditions as the practice proceeded.
  • No safety launch boat was used, despite being required under the conditions.
  • No team member or coach was on shore or in a safety launch to relay changing conditions or respond to an emergency, despite being a requirement.
  • Two team members lacked sufficient on-water experience for the weather and water conditions present, violating the club’s constitutional requirement that does not permit members to row in conditions outside of their ability levels.
  • Team leadership did not ensure that proper safety equipment or communication devices were available in the case of an emergency.

Read more about the reviews’ findings here.

Iowa State’s response to the findings

Iowa State University has suspended all Crew Club activities for at least the 2021-2022 academic year. The university will implement all of the safety measures recommended by the reviews.

Iowa State University Risk Management, Recreation Services and the Student Activities Center will develop a plan for reconstruction of the sports club category of student organizations, taking into consideration all the recommendations of the reviews.

Two separate reviews

Iowa State University says an independent external review was conducted by the U.S. Council for Athletes Health with the assistance of Mark Wilson, co-founder of All American Rowing Camp, a rowing expert identified by USRowing.

Additionally, a separate internal review was conducted “by a committee of university personnel with student activity and student organization expertise from the Office of University Counsel, the Office of Risk Management, the Student Activities Center and the Department of Public Safety Transportation Services,” Iowa State University said.

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