Home / National News / Northwestern Student Harsha Maddula’s Death Ruled as Drowning


(NEW YORK) — Northwestern University sophomore Harsha Maddula, who disappeared about a week ago, drowned, according to the medical examiner.

A fisherman found the body floating near some boats at a harbor in Wilmette, Ill., Thursday night, according to ABC News Chicago station WLS-TV.

Maddula’s wallet, Northwestern ID card and his cell phone were found on the body, according to Northwestern University spokesman Alan Cubbage.

Officials would not speculate on what led to the drowning, but “Wilmette Police investigators on the scene said there were no signs of foul play on the body,” Cubbage said in a news conference Thursday night.

“On behalf of Northwestern University, I extend our deepest sympathies to Harsha’s family and to his many friends at Northwestern,” university president Morton Schapiro said in a statement. “Our hearts and thoughts are with them. The loss of one member of the Northwestern community deeply affects us all.”

Maddula, 18, disappeared last Saturday after he left a party near Northwestern’s campus around 12:30 a.m., according to school officials. His cellphone last pinged a cell tower near Wilmette Harbor around 1 a.m.

Divers searched the Lake Michigan harbor for hours Wednesday, but found no signs of Maddula, according to a statement from the university early Thursday.

The family of the sophomore pre-med student flew from their home in Long Island, N.Y., to assist with the search, and put up a $25,000 reward for information on his whereabouts. They described Maddula as a bookworm not prone to adventures or partying.

“We really have no idea, no clue what could have happened to him,” his cousin, Srinu Maddula, told ABC News early Thursday. “It’s just out of his character. He’s just a good kid, he just likes to study. He really enjoys school and education and work. He doesn’t smoke, or drink, or do drugs because of his diabetic condition.”

Srinu Maddula said the family has little information about the party that his cousin was attending or what friends he was with on the night of his disappearance.

“We want to make sure this investigation is not over,” Sushma Maddula, Harsha Maddula’s cousin, told WLS-TV. “Who was Harsha with last? Who did he speak to last? I still do not know…we need to find the answers.”

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