FDL Soldier Drowns in Lake In New Mexico State Park

(Update 12:30 p.m. 9/16/13):Former Fond du Lac City Council President Rob Vande Zande says he’s received hundreds of messages of condolences about the tragic death of his eldest son since Sunday. Rob Vande Zande  says his 21-year-old son Rob Jr. was stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas. Rob Jr., his wife Sara, and three army buddies decided to go swimming Saturday at Elephant Butte Lake, which isn’t far from Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.  Rob Sr. says there’s a lot of silt in the lake and zero visibility. Rob Jr. got tired about a third of the way across the lake so he turned around to swim back.  Something startled him, he began to panic and went under. It happened about 15 feet from shore. His father was attending a concert in Fond du Lac that evening and got a message on his cell phone, learning soon after of his son’s death. Rob Sr. says his son loved life. Rob Jr. had a wife Sara who is expecting a daughter named Ava in mid-November. He planned on making the Army his career.


There was tragedy over the weekend for the family of a former Fond du Lac City Councilman. Twenty-one-year-old Rob Vande Zande Jr. who was stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas drowned in Elephant Butte Lake. New Mexico State Police say some soldiers were swimming in the lake Saturday and Vande Zande did not resurface. A dive team recovered his body in about 8 feet of water near the Marina Del Sur. Alcohol use was not suspected in the drowning. He was the son of former City Councilman Rob Vande Zande Sr. who resigned from the Council this summer to take care of his ailing wife. A benefit will be held for the family at the American Legion Hall in Fond du Lac on Sunday, October 6th from 8 a.m. to Noon. Other fundraisers will also be held. Fort Bliss is located in the states of New Mexico and Texas with its headquarters in El Paso, Texas.