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La Grange man drowns at Wisconsin triathlon

Updated: June 18, 2012 8:52AM

SHERWOOD, Wis. ­— A La Grange man died Saturday while swimming in a triathlon in northeast Wisconsin.

Doug Witmer, 42, apparently drowned about 7:50 a.m. in Lake Winnebago during the High Cliff Triathlon in High Cliff State Park in Sherwood, Wis., according to the Calumet County Sheriff’s Department. Sherwood is about 30 miles southwest of Green Bay.

“He was really a terrific and funny and incredibly intelligent and devoted family member,” said Kasey Madden, a neighbor and family friend.

Witmer had a 10-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son, Madden said. He was on the La Grange Little League board and was a coach on his son’s team. He was also involved in his daughter’s Indian Princess group and was a coach on her soccer team.

“He loved taking his kids to school in the morning and starting off the day with that,” Madden said.

Witmer grew up in Virginia and received a bachelor’s degree from University of Virginia and an M.B.A. from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. He had been working for energy bar manufacturer Clif Bar.

“He had a really rich network of friends,” Madden said. “I wonder how many think of him as their best friends.”

He was an avid bicycler and music lover, she said.

The ninth annual triathlon started about 7 a.m., according to Midwest Sports Events, which put on the race. Participants could compete in the half triathlon or shorter sprint triathlon, but it was not known in which race Witmer was competing.

Sheriff’s police said the incident remains under investigation.

In October 2011, North Carolina firefighter Will Caviness died running the Chicago Marathon. Caviness, 35, was just 500 yards from the finish line of the 26.2 mile race when he collapsed.

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