City News

Family seeking evidence in case of windsurfer killed by UW Lifesaving boat

The family of Yu Chen, 43, who was killed last month by a university-owned boat while windsurfing on Lake Mendota is poised to request a Dane County judge to release additional evidence from the incident.

State, county and university officials will be asked to turn over key evidence in the case of a windsurfer who died when he was struck from behind by a UW-Madison rescue boat May 31 in Lake Mendota.

Jay Urban, the attorney for the mother of 43-year-old Yu Chen, who was killed in the collision, says the university, the state Department of Natural Resources and the Dane County Sheriff’s Office have withheld evidence that could be sufficient to bring a wrongful death lawsuit.

A claim must be filed within 120 days of a death involving a state employee under state law, but the sheriff’s office plans to keep the evidence confidential until the investigation is complete. That process could take longer than 120 days, the Wisconsin State Journal reported Tuesday.

Urban plans to file a motion seeking UW Lifesaving training and maintenance records and videos from the Governor’s mansion, which overlooks the lake, among other evidence.

Attorneys are also seeking permission to inspect the boat, which has been put back to service, and to depose the operators of the UW Lifesaving boat.

“The state and county records will likely show that the boat was traveling too fast for conditions, that the boat’s crew was inattentive or both,” Urban told the State Journal.

The UW Lifesaving boat was returning from Governor’s Island on a clear day when it struck and killed Chen. The family is asking the state to help recover Chen’s arm, which was separated in the accident. 

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