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Investigators rule UW-Whitewater student’s death accidental

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Kevin Hoffman
August 4, 2011
— Walworth County detectives ruled this week there was no foul play in the death of a 20-year-old UW-Whitewater student who earlier this summer was found at the bottom of a rock quarry.

Capt. Dana Nigbor of the Walworth County Sheriff’s Office said deputies have closed the case, determining Mark J. Wegener’s death was accidental. Wegener of Hartland went missing for two days before searchers found his body at the base of a limestone quarry on the city’s southeast side.


Wegener died of multiple fractures after falling about 70 feet, according to the coroner’s report. The report also said Wegener’s blood alcohol content was 0.106.


“It’s a terrible tragedy … very, very sad,” Nigbor said. “I know there were a lot of questions and there was a lot of concern amongst the community that this was foul play, but that’s not the case. There is no evidence at all that this is criminal.”


The sheriff’s office ended the two-month investigation but wasn’t able to fill in the gaps surrounding Wegener’s disappearance May 28.


Witnesses said at 1 a.m. Wegener left a house party at Boone Court and Center Street in Whitewater. His home was just two blocks away, but Wegener somehow ended up nearly a mile from there.


Those at the party told police he appeared alert enough to walk home.


Friends and family posted fliers through the community the same day Wegener went missing. Searchers using ATVs and horses found his body May 29.


Nigbor said detectives were able to turn up a few details, determining he was text messaging after he left the party. Reports earlier said his last text message read “peace,” an expression he often used.


A resident who helped lead authorities to Wegener’s location told police he saw a man matching Wegener’s description walking in the quarry’s direction.


Whitewater police initially handled the investigation but turned it over the sheriff’s office once Wegener was found. The limestone quarry is just outside the city limits.



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