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Funeral planned for FDL soldier who drowned in New Mexico

Rob Vande Zande Jr.
Rob Vande Zande Jr.

FOND DU LAC, WI (WTAQ) - Funeral services are tentatively planned for next Tuesday for a soldier from Fond du Lac who drowned in New Mexico during the weekend. 

His friends said something might have caused 21-year-old Army Specialist Rob Vande Zande Jr. to panic, and he could not stay above water about 15 feet from the shore. 

It happened Saturday on Elephant Butte Lake near Truth or Consequences New Mexico, about a two-hour drive from where Vande Zande was stationed at Fort Bliss.

He and his wife went swimming with three Army friends, and they searched for him after he went under. Rescuers recovered Vande Zande's body in 8 feet of water, about 50 feet from the shore. 

A coroner's investigation is pending, but officials said neither alcohol nor foul play were involved.

The victim's father is former Fond du Lac City Council President Rob Vande Zande. He said his son was trying to get promoted to sergeant. 

Vande Zande's wife Sarah is expecting the couple's first child, daughter Ava, in November.

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