Memorial started for students lost in boating accident

A memorial was been set up under the Campanile for the two students lost in a boating accident March 28, 2021.

Kylee Haueter

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include a statement from Ames Mayor John Haila.

A memorial has started under the Campanile for the two Iowa State students killed in Sunday’s tragic boating accident.

Yaakov Ben-David, sophomore in accounting, and Derek Nanni, freshman in chemistry, were both killed during Iowa State Crew Club’s practice at Little Wall Lake on Sunday morning when their boat capsized.

One body was recovered Sunday, the other was recovered Monday morning. 

Three other members of the Crew Club were on the boat as well but were rescued thanks to the help of residents that live on the lake, according to Hamilton County Sheriff Doug Timmons. These students’ names have not been released to protect their privacy, according to the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office.

The Iowa State Crew Club posted on their Instagram and Facebook page Tuesday afternoon.

“We didn’t just lose 2 rowers on Sunday; we lost 2 brothers. Yaakov and Derek were family,” the post read.

The club’s Instagram was flooded with tributes from other collegiate and professional rowing teams, some repping red, gold and black in honor of the two boys. 

Thursday morning, Ames Mayor John Haila issued a statement regarding the deaths of the students.

“The deaths of Iowa State University Crew Club members Yaakov Ben-David and Derek Nanni while practicing rowing at Little Wall Lake on Sunday morning are painful and tragic. The entire Ames community extends its deepest sympathies to their families and friends. We share your sorrow at such a sudden and unexpected loss of life and are devastated by the outcome of this accident,” he said.

“Although I never had the pleasure of meeting either student, I have learned that Yaakov was a sophomore from Washington D.C., majoring in accounting, and Derek was a freshman chemistry major from Normal, Ill. They apparently both loved rowing and were enthusiastic participants in the sport,” he said. “As a community, we welcome students from all over the globe to Ames to attend Iowa State University. As they learn, grow, and develop into future leaders, we hope and aspire for them to find their life’s passion and place in the world. We are saddened by this unrealized potential from lives so unexpectedly cut short, and our hearts go out to their families and friends.” 

“The Ames City Council and City of Ames staff join the entire Iowa State University family and our own Ames residents in remembering Yaakov Ben-David and Derek Nanni,” he said. 

The club typically practices at Lied Recreation Athletic Center and at Little Wall Lake. There has not yet been a reason given as to why the boat capsized and the accident is still under investigation, but Timmons said weather conditions at the lake Sunday were not good. 

The club has also set up a fundraising page on the student organization marketplace. Donations will go directly to the club and to support the families that lost a loved one.