Tragedy on Little Wall Lake

29 March 2021

One student died and one is missing after a boat with five members from Iowa State University rowing club capsized Sunday morning on Little Wall Lake, two miles south of Jewell in Hamilton County, Iowa. Three other members of the crew were rescued by people living close to the lake.

‘We had some heroes in the people who live in the houses here,’ said Hamilton County Sheriff Doug Timmons, according to CNN. ‘There’s some people who took some risks they didn’t have to take and saved some lives.’

‘The Iowa State community is heartbroken to learn of this tragic accident at Little Wall Lake. At this time, we are focused on providing support to club members, their families and friends. We ask that everyone keep them in their thoughts during this very difficult time,’ Wendy Wintersteen, president of Iowa State University, said in a statement.

The three students who were rescued were treated at Mary Greeley Medical Center and have been release, according to the university.

Members of Story County Sheriff’s Office Dive Team have recovered one body while one student is still missing. The names of the students involved in this heartbreaking accident have not been released.

It is believed that the crew capsized around 9:30 a.m. on Sunday. According to CNN meteorologist Monica Garrett the air temperature was just above freezing at 9 a.m. at Webster City Municipal Airport, about 16 miles northwest of the lake. There were strong winds on Sunday morning at above 20 mph and wind gusts up to 30 mph. ‘These winds made it feel like 25 degrees Fahrenheit,’ Garrett said.

‘Our hearts go out to the families, team members, classmates, and friends of the Iowa State rowing team during this very sad and tragic time and we ask that everyone keep them in our thoughts,’ Amanda Kraus, USRowing CEO, said in a statement.

29 March, 7:15 p.m. – The body of the missing rower has now been found.
31 March, 8:30 a.m. – The names of the two rowers who died have been released, Yaakov Ben-David, 20, and Derek Nanni, 19.


  1. Very sad. Condolences to family and friends, along with thanks to those who attended the tragedy. As an umpire at regattas, capsizes do occur and we often need to explain to coaches and rowers the importance of shoe heels being tied down properly, that correct quick release straps are in place and correct foot plates and foot stretchers are fitted. I have seen a number of rowers unable to get their feet out and at times barely able to get their heads above water. So this may be a reminder to check all boats for safety, at training and regattas, and even with big boats. Row safe.

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