Patrick Wetzel, R.I.P.: CU Student's Body Found After Canoe Accident That Killed 4

This morning in Winnetka, Illinois, a funeral mass will be held for Patrick Wetzel.

The 21-year-old Wetzel was a senior at the University of Colorado Boulder majoring in political science.

But during the holiday break, as he was on the cusp of starting a promising post-collegiate life, he and three of his friends from Chicago's North Shore area died in a canoe accident in Wisconsin.

It took several days for his body to be found.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Wetzel, along with Christopher McQuillen, Lanny Sack and Mori Weinstein — all twenty or 21 — gathered at a lake house near East Troy, Wisconsin early in the new year with several other friends.

The quartet graduated from New Trier High School in Winnetka.

Then, on Sunday morning, January 3, they were reported missing.

The working theory: the friends had gone out drinking on a canoe and it overturned.

A search was quickly initiated, with the focus on nearby Mill Lake.

By Tuesday, January 5, the bodies of three victims — McQuillen, Sack and Weinstein — had been located.

However, Wetzel remained missing.

Recovery efforts were reportedly slowed due to the frigid conditions on Mill Lake, where the house was located.

However, Wetzel's body was found on January 8.

That same day, McQuillen was laid to rest in the first of the services for the accident victims.

The online obituary for Wetzel features the photo at the top of this post and a video jammed with images throughout his life.

Here's a shot of him as a child.... well as a pic with a feathered friend....

...and one that used CU Boulder's campus as a backdrop.

The obituary reads in part:
Pat was first and foremost loyal to his family and friends. His deep friendships developed early in his life through sports and outdoor activities. When Pat was 17, he participated in a service trip to Cambodia where he helped build a school. The program, Caring for Cambodia, ignited a love for both adventure and service. Pat followed this service with two Habitat for Humanity trips in Guatemala and planned to return to Central America after graduation....

Pat is remembered by his family as a gentle and caring brother and son. An avid pet lover, he adored his miniature schnauzer, Sammy, and often threatened to bring home a new puppy.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Patrick's name are suggested for Bruce's Legacy, described as "a Wisconsin based volunteer organization providing emergency assistance and search and recovery operations for drowned victims. " Additionally, there are plans for the construction of "Pat's House" through Habitat for Humanity.

Our sincere condolences to the friends, family and loved ones of Patrick Wetzel. Look below to see a CBS Chicago report about the accident, broadcast at a point when two of the four victims were still missing.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

Latest Stories