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Medical Examiner: NU Student Died of Accidental Drowning

A representative of the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office told Patch that Maddula's death was ruled to be an accident. Examiners say the cause was drowning.

One day after police found the body of 18-year-old Northwestern sophomore Harsha Maddula in the waters of Wilmette Harbor, officials ruled his death an accident. 

The cause of death was ruled to be drowning, a representative of the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office told Patch Friday. 

Maddula, of New Hyde Park, NY, was last seen alive on Saturday, Sept. 22, at 12:30 a.m., walking home from a party he attended off campus. 

Police traced his cell phone signal and determined that it transmitted its last signal in the early morning on Saturday near a tower in Wilmette Harbor. More than 20 local law enforcement agencies and fire departments assisted Northwestern University Police in a search of the harbor water and the land on Wednesday, with no results. His body was found in the water on Thursday night.

Officials say Maddula suffered from diabetes, and a neighbor of the Maddula family told News 12 in Long Island that the teen “was depressed” over his diagnosis and initially did not want to take insulin. However, the neighbor said that doctors later convinced Maddula that the shots were important. 

Diabetes is caused when the body does not produce enough insulin or when cells ignore insulin, according to the American Diabetes Association. The hormone insulin is necessary to convert glucose, the sugar that makes up foods, into energy for the body. 

No one found evidence of insulin in Maddula’s body, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office. Examiners also found no evidence of alcohol. 

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Pat Craig September 29, 2012 at 10:10 PM
Diabetes out of control can manifest many of the same symptoms of alcohol intoxication, including impaired balance, impaired vision and impaired judgement. A diabetic in Ketosis will have breath odor similar to alcoholic beverages, (many police officers have mistaken out of control diabetics for drunk drivers), While there is no cure, most diabetes can be managed with proper diet, exercise and medications, (which sometimes include insulin). It is unfortunate that this young man lost his life most likely to not properly managing his disease. Prayers go out to his friends and family.

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