Public Safety

Autopsy confirms Iowa City woman's drowning was accidental, sheriff's office reports as it closes investigation

21-year-old Makeda Scott died June 7 after falling from kayak in Lake Macbride, officials say

A Johnson County squad car. (file photo)
A Johnson County squad car. (file photo)

SOLON — An Iowa City woman drowned in Lake Macbride despite rescue efforts, the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office said.

The sheriff’s office on Friday released its findings in the June 7 death investigation of 21-year-old Makeda Scott. An extensive investigation affirmed that Scott drowned and her death was accidental, the sheriff’s office said.

According to a news release, Scott and a co-worker kayaked all afternoon on June 7. Authorities said around 5:30 p.m., Scott and the co-worker got back onto the kayak after spending time in the water.

Scott lost her balance and fell into the water, the sheriff’s office said. She was not wearing a life jacket.

Authorities said the co-worker threw Scott a life jacket, but she was unable to reach it. The co-worker also took down a sail attached to the kayak and tried twice to position the kayak to save Scott, but was unsuccessful. Scott disappeared under the water and did not resurface. The co-worker called 911 at 5:31 p.m. and stayed on the phone until law enforcement arrived.

The sheriff’s office said two nearby fishermen also responded to the co-worker’s shouts for help and tried to find Scott. They remained on scene until law emergency responders arrived, authorities said.

A rescue operation commenced, but was suspended that evening due to darkness. It resumed the next morning and Scott’s body was recovered at 12:10 p.m. June 8 in 14 feet of water. She was found near where she fell from the kayak, authorities said.

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An autopsy by the Johnson County Medical Examiner’s Office showed Scott died of drowning and her death was accidental. The sheriff’s office conducted interviews, collected evidence and did a forensic analysis of both Scott and the co-worker’s cellphones. The case was also reviewed by the Johnson County Attorney’s Office.

“The investigation did not show any evidence of criminal wrongdoing by the co-worker or anyone else,” the sheriff’s office said.

The sheriff’s office said they agree with the findings of the medical examiner.

According to data from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, kayaks were involved in 10 percent of boat incidents in Iowa over the last three years, but 37 percent of fatalities.

Iowa law requires everyone riding in a boat, including a kayak or canoe, to have a life jacket. Kids 12 and under must wear one when the boat is moving.

Comments: (319) 339-3155; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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