Archive for Thursday, May 26, 2011

100 years ago: Engineering student drowns in KU’s new Potter Lake

May 26, 2011


From the Lawrence Daily Journal-World for May 26, 1911:

“Lemonade, drank at the Civil Engineering gathering last night and followed by a cold plunge in Potter Lake, produced cramps which resulted in the drowning of Leonard F. Ritchey, 22 years old, a junior engineer who lived at Cheney, Kans. Ritchey had gone from Marvin hall about 11 o’clock with 75 other engineering students for a swim in the new university lake. He was drowned fifteen minutes later. The body was not recovered for an hour and a half, and although Dr. James Naismith worked hard over the body, attempts at resuscitation proved futile. Ritchey had attended the Kinnear lectures with a large number of other civil engineers. Refreshments of lemonade and cake had been served, and Ritchey drank large quantities of the former. As the students left the hall someone proposed that they take a night swim in Potter Lake, a sport which has recently been popularized.... The water at this point is about twelve feet deep, and although the students dived repeatedly they were unable to find the slightest trace of their companion’s body. After an hour’s futile effort Dr. Naismith was notified. He hastily phoned Jas. Daniels, Ross Parker and other members of the swimming team, and hurried to the scene.... It was 12:30 when Daniels recovered the body. Dr. Naismith and his student assistants did not give up hope for more than an hour, but were finally forced to acknowledge the futility of trying to restore life.”


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