A family’s unanswered questions

 

Student death ruled accident by county, city officials:

Although the death of former UW-Whitewater student Benjamin Fuder was ruled accidental by the Walworth County Coroner’s Office, the Fuder family questions the final ruling.

Fuder was found dead at the northeast edge of the Whitewater Limestone quarry on July 29.

Fuder’s cause of death was attributed to head trauma from the fall into the quarry as well as significant other conditions. Ethanol (alcohol grain), cannabinoids (similar to THC) and psilocin (psychedelic mushroom) were present in Fuders’ body at the time of the toxicology report.

Fuder was last seen at the Hawk’s Nest Bar and Grill after a friend told Fuder to go home since he was being “too rambunctious.”

According to friends and family of Fuder, he would drink occasionally, and they said the amount of alcohol Fuder had consumed the night of his death was normal for him. Fuder’s alcohol content was reported at .110.

Police confiscated 55.6 grams of psilocin and 17.6 grams of THC, paraphernalia and two pills of clear capsules of an unknown orange powder.

Fuder’s death is similar to another Whitewater student’s death, Mark Wegener, only 14 months earlier.

Wegener and Fuder were both found dead at the quarry, their exact locations being 40 feet away. Wegener had an illegal blood alcohol content recorded at .106.

Benjamin Fuder’s sister stands in front of a dirt mound Joshua Fuder said was moved by the quarry. The mound covers the opening where Benjamin might have fallen.

Both Wegener’s and Fuder’s deaths were ruled accidents and will not be reopened unless more evidence is found.

“It is tough dealing with cases that are similar, but the evidence does not conclude any foul play,” Walworth County Sherriff David Graves said.

Joshua Fuder, Benjamin Fuder’s brother, said he is still not convinced as to how Benjamin Fuder died.

“My brother and Mark may very well have been drunk or under the influence of other substances at the time of their death, but to me, that is not a good enough of explanation for what happened to these promising young men,” Joshua Fuder said.

The limestone quarry has a video camera that is not operational. Joshua Fuder questioned why the quarry felt the need to install non-operational surveillance equipment.

Whitewater Limestone quarry plans to put a fence around the premises by winter of 2012, but have no other plans for more preventative measures.

Joshua Fuder said he believes the quarry owner manipulated the scene where Benjamin Fuder was found.

According to Joshua Fuder, the spot where Benjamin Fuder would have had to go through before falling was supposedly covered by two strands of barbed wire. The quarry manager told Joshua Fuder the barbed wire was present when he did his monthly walk around the premises on July 16.

Joshua Fuder said this wire was not present when Benjamin Fuder was found, and after he was found, the quarry placed a mound of dirt in front of the opening.

“The fact that they were allowed to do this and disturb or destroy any possible evidence is utterly disturbing to me,” Joshua Fuder said.

The Fuder family said they are still looking for answers as to how or why Benjamin died, but is ready to begin the long healing process that will be required after the death.

The deaths of Fuder and Wegener reiterate the importance of safety while socializing.

According to Graves, students should walk home in groups, always be aware of their surroundings, especially in the dark, and stay away from the quarry.

Walworth County and Whitewater Police have both closed Benjamin Fuder’s case ruling it accidental.

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