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Tuesday, April 16
The Indiana Daily Student

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‘The world lost a truly precious gem’: Siddhant Shah was a hero, loved ones say

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When a day of relaxation became a nightmare, IU sophomore Siddhant Shah left his boat and dove into rough waters to save his friends. Although multiple people were saved, Siddhant, along with Aryan Vaidya, never emerged from the surface of the water alive. Friends and family say Siddhant will forever be remembered as a hero.  

On April 15, a group of IU students were relaxing on a pontoon boat at Monroe Lake, enjoying a day of sunshine and the beginnings of spring. They were swimming on and off, Yash Patel, Siddhant’s best friend and roommate said, as the currents were mild initially.  

But at one point, while Yash was swimming with around six or seven others, currents suddenly intensified, and the swimmers were dragged away from the boat.  

Seeing the chaos from the boat, Siddhant’s first instinct was to jump in and help, Yash said.  

Yash said Siddhant was a strong swimmer, but the currents were powerful. Yash said he almost drowned himself but was saved by a boat that came to help.  

Siddhant was swimming for around 15 minutes, Yash said. When another friend got the opportunity to reach out to grab Siddhant, Siddhant’s hands slipped, and he soon became too tired to continue swimming.  

When Siddhant disappeared beneath the water, his friends immediately called 911. Boats came to help in 10 minutes, Yash said.  

“All of the people at IU are going to remember him as a hero,” he said.  

Everyone loved Siddhant, Yash said, and he will always be alive in their hearts.  

“The world lost a truly precious gem,” he said.  

Shefali Shah, Siddhant’s mother, said she and his family are proud of his bravery and believe they raised him right.  

Siddhant was proud to be a student in the Kelley School of Business, and would always joke with his uncle, Harshal Desai, a graduate of Purdue University. 

Faced with a choice to enroll in either Purdue or IU, Siddhant chose IU. His uncle said he loved it so much that he encouraged several other students from India to go to Kelley.  

Siddhant was from Ahmedabad, India and was studying management at IU. According to his LinkedIn profile, Siddhant played squash at IU, volunteered for IU’s Welcome Week last fall and interned at the Alps Foundation in India for nine months. His internship with the foundation —  which is a nonprofit aimed at improving education, food, shelter and environmental benefits in Ahmedabad — included raising 150,000 Indian rupees, around $1,830, for underprivileged children and planting more than 1,500 trees.  

Siddhant also spent two months at Suryam Developers beginning in 2019, which is one of the biggest real estate companies in Ahmedabad.  

Although lakes are typically associated with calm waters, waves can develop if it is windy enough. Lieutenant Angela Goldman with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources said conditions at the lake were particularly windy on the day the drownings occurred.  

To stay safe on the lake, Goldman said people should always wear lifejackets. She also recommended people never go on the lake alone and that swimmers stay close to the boat. 

Harshal, Siddhant’s uncle, emphasized how quickly the lake can change.  

“In a minute’s time, the currents can become so strong that it acts like a sea,” he said. 

Siddhant’s uncle said Siddhant was selfless and influenced many people in his life.  

In a message to the IDS, Siddhant’s family friend Maharsh Patel wrote that Siddhant had no regrets in life. He enjoyed life to the fullest and lived in the moment, he wrote.  

“He was my family friend to whom I could share anything without judgement,” Maharsh wrote. 

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