20 Aug 2014
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UPDATE - Medical Examiner: NU Student Died of Drowning

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled that the cause of Maddula's death was drowning, either accidental or a suicide.

UPDATE - Medical Examiner: NU Student Died of Drowning

One day after police found the body of 18-year-old Northwestern sophomore Harsha Maddula in the waters of Wilmette Harbor, officials say his death was caused by drowning.

A representative of the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office told Patch Friday, Sept. 28, that the cause of Maddula's death was accidental. But on Friday, Oct. 5, as police continued their investigation into his death, a spokesperson said the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office now considered it "undetermined," meaning it could be either a suicide or an accident.

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. 

Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story contained incorrect information that the Cook County Medical Examiner's Office provided to Patch. Officials expect that a complete toxicology report, due to be completed in the next few weeks, will show whether or not there was alcohol or insulin in Maddula's body at the time of his death.

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