Family seeks answers in death of LU student

Courtesy of Appleton Post-Crescent

The family of a Lawrence University student who drowned Sept. 8 at the Buchanan-Kiewit Aquatic Center has hired a private detective to look into the death.
Ray Vander Perren, of Ray Vander Perren and Associates of Green Bay, confirmed Wednesday he has been hired by the family of Kwabena Buanya, a sophomore from Ghana.
“I think there should be a fuller investigation,” Kofi Arhin, Buanya’s uncle, said from his Maryland home Tuesday night. “We don’t know how he got into that pool.”
Buanya, 21, a member of the Lawrence men’s soccer team, was in the pool with other team members during “a regularly scheduled, supervised team aquatic practice,” according to a university news release.
The coroner’s office referred questions to the Appleton Police Department. The police report is still awaiting the toxicology test results and thus is not ready for release, said Pat DeWall, department spokesman. He said there was no ongoing investigation. The coroner’s office said the toxicology report should be complete in one to two weeks.
Arhin said the Outagamie County coroner’s office told him Buanya was found in 16 feet of water. Arhin said he couldn’t envision any scenario in which his nephew, who he said was not a good swimmer, would go into water over his head.
“Knowing him to be a cool, collected, very smart guy, I don’t know how he got into that place,” Arhin said.
Nancy Truesdell, Lawrence dean of students, said Thursday that Lawrence is not conducting its own investigation.
“Our representatives have been working closely with the police from the very beginning and have been cooperating with them,” she said. Truesdell said that Buanya ended up in the deep end of the pool after “he separated himself from the group where the supervised activity was going on.”
Members of the soccer team and of Buanya’s fraternity told The Post-Crescent they were directed by the university to refer all questions to the school’s Office of Public Affairs.
“This is the issue, why shouldn’t they talk?” Arhin said. “These are all questions that baffle us.”
Truesdell said the policy is meant to protect family, friends and teammates during an emotional time, not to suppress information. “It sounds more mysterious than it is.”
Truesdell said now the school is awaiting the police report on the drowning.
“I think we’re assuming that the final police report will provide what answers there are for us to know,” she said. “At this point so far every indication is that it was an accidental drowning.”
Truesdell had little to say about Buanya’s family hiring a private investigator.
“The family has a right to do what they feel they have to do,” she said.
Arhin said Buanya wanted to one day become a doctor and return to his native Ghana, on the west coast of Africa. Buanya lived with his uncle in the United States.
“He was calm, gentle, a smart guy, a good guy,” Arhin said. “He had all the talents, every aspect, from his academic life to his social life. It’s really devastating.”
Arhin said Buanya would be buried on Oct. 7 in the United States. Truesdell said Lawrence has been working with the family and plans to have family members return for an Oct. 13 memorial service at the Memorial Chapel.

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