Members of the Racine County Water Response Team, in addition to the Racine County Sheriff’s Department, investigate the drowning death of a 15-year-old boy from the town of Dover Wednesday (Jason Arndt/Standard Press).

By Jason Arndt
Staff Writer

Tragedy struck a town of Dover family Wednesday, when a 15-year-old boy died 200 yards behind their home in the 22700 block of Deer Meadow Drive, where his father found him submerged in a small pond.

The 15-year-old was identified as Union Grove High School sophomore Austin Sanders.

According to Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling, Sanders’ father placed a 911 call at around 11 a.m., and responding deputies attempted life-saving measures.

Austin Sanders

“They started emergency medical attention to the 15-year-old child, and despite our best efforts, the 15-year-old was pronounced deceased,” Schmaling said at a Wednesday evening news conference at the Racine County Sheriff’s Substation.

“This is a very sad day here for the Racine County Sheriff’s Office and the Racine County community.”

Schmaling acknowledged information is limited, noting it is an ongoing investigation, but does not believe the death is suspicious.

“The investigation is ongoing at this very moment, and again, there is very limited information I can share with you,” he said. “The death is not suspicious, but I can tell you, we are not ruling anything out.”

To make matters worse for the family, during the initial investigation, authorities took Sanders’ mother into custody on charges unrelated to her son’s death.

Schmaling, who confirmed the arrest, declined to disclose further details.

However, his mother has been cooperative with the death investigation, Schmaling added.

“She is cooperating with the investigation,” Schmaling said. “We have many, many questions for her.”

As the family mourns, Schmaling said Union Grove has made preparations for Thursday morning, when students return to class.

“Union Grove has agreed to set up tomorrow morning, bereavement counseling, they will have counselors on standby for any students,” Schmaling said.

“He has many, many friends as you can imagine.”