Cummins intern drowns in lake

Police say 23-year-old man falls from zip line over water near Cortland

Tribune staff reports

A 23-year-old man staying with a friend in Seymour apparently drowned after dropping from a zip line into a lake during a party Saturday night west of Cortland, police report.

Jean Ives Ishimwe was pronounced dead at Schneck Medical Center in Seymour, where he was taken by Jackson County Emergency Medical Services personnel after the incident reported in the 8000 block of North Base Line Road, according to a news release from the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department.

Jackson County Coroner Mike Bobb said early Monday that he could not confirm the cause of death but expected to know more after an autopsy set for Monday afternoon at Schneck.

Lt. Andy Wayman with the sheriff’s department said police do not suspect foul play in the death of Ishimwe, who had been living with Solomon Rust of Seymour. Rust could not be reached for comment.

Ishimwe, who is originally from Rwanda, was a student at the University of Michigan and had been working as an intern at Cummins Seymour Technical Center.

A witness told police Ishimwe and another man were riding a zip line at the time of the incident, reported at 9:10 p.m. Saturday.

That man said Ishimwe took off from one side of the lake, and the other man followed just seconds later, according to county Officer Rick Meyer’s report.

The witness said he quit watching the two but heard water splash and saw Ishimwe was no longer on the zip line. He watched the other man end his ride on dry land before jumping back into the water and yelling for others.

Others also went into the lake to rescue Ishimwe, who was underwater for several minutes.

The witness said it was not uncommon for people to want to land in the water instead of riding the zip line all the way to the other side of the lake, Meyer said.

The man said most people, however, would fall off right away and swim back to the dock, but Ishiwme had traveled almost to the far end of the line before falling off, Meyer said.

Ishimwe was pulled to shore and administered CPR before help could arrive, police said. Meyer said Ishimwe continued to receive CPR until medical personnel arrived and took him to Schneck.

There are harnesses for those riding the zip line, but riders also can just hold on with their hands, Meyer said. Both Ishimwe and the second man weren’t wearing harnesses.

Wayman said there is no state law regarding operation of zip lines on private property.

The gathering attended by about 100 people was called Alex Fest, conducted annually to celebrate the life of the late Alexander Rust.

Alexander Rust died of complications while recovering from typhoid fever at the age of 28 on May 28, 2013, while traveling in India. He was the brother of Solomon Rust.

Cummins spokesman Jon Mills said the Cummins family is extremely saddened about losing a team member.

“Our thoughts are with his family and friends during this difficult time,” he said. “Cummins is doing everything we can to support the affected families and our Cummins employees.”

Crothersville Reserve Officer Travis McElfresh and personnel with Hamilton Township Volunteer Fire Department assisted with the attempt to save Ishimwe.