Wabash Mourns Apparent Loss of Tony Lobdell
by Jim Amidon
April 28, 2004
Wabash College mourns the apparent loss of 20 year-old junior Anthony Hyatt Lobdell of Indianapolis, IN, who Argentine police believed drowned in a mountain lake in the Bariloche region of Argentina. Local and federal police had been investigating Lobdell’s disappearance since April 16, but called an end to their search efforts on Tuesday, April 27.
Lobdell, a political science major and Spanish minor, had been studying at the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo in Mendoza, Argentina, through a program sponsored by the Institute for Study Abroad (IFSA) in Indianapolis. Mendoza is approximately 620 miles west of Buenos Aires near the Chilean border.
Lobdell left his Mendoza home on April 1 for a vacation and told his host family in Argentina that he would be traveling until April 11. The IFSA resident director in Mendoza, Jose Mostafa, notified the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires and Argentine local and federal police when the student still had not returned to his host family by April 16.
The embassy released a public announcement and the student’s photo to the Argentine media on Wednesday, April 21. Media attention there led to clues that helped local and federal police, along with forest rangers and American FBI agents, to narrow the search for Lobdell to specific locations around Bariloche. Police found his backpack and passport in a youth hostel near the Civic Center in Bariloche on April 22, which suggested that he had been on a day trip when he left on April 9 but never returned. Investigators found more of Lobdell’s belongings at the shore of a lake, where they concentrated their efforts.
The student’s parents, Nancy Bennett and Lawrence Lobdell, flew to Argentina on Friday, April 23, where they were met and escorted by Mostafa, the resident director of the IFSA program, to Bariloche, where on Saturday they joined the search efforts.
Members of Delta Tau Delta lowered the flag to half staff
"We extend our deepest sympathies to Tony’s parents, his family, friends, and Delta Tau Delta fraternity brothers," said Wabash College President Andrew T. Ford. "Tony was a remarkable young man, an excellent student, and an involved member of our community who will be missed by all of us at the College. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family at this most tragic time."
Lobdell spent eight weeks in Ecuador during the summer of 2003 as a part of Wabash’s Ecuadorian Studies Program. It was there that his interest in the region was piqued, which prompted him to change his overseas study plans from Spain to Argentina. He had been in Mendoza since January and was slated to return to the United States in early summer.
Wabash, a private liberal arts college for men, sends approximately 25 percent of its juniors on off-campus study programs around the world. By graduation, almost half of all Wabash men will have had at least one off-campus study experience, according to Dean of the College Mauri Ditzler.
Forty-eight Wabash men are currently studying off-campus, most of them abroad. Director of Off-Campus Studies David Clapp has communicated with each of them in the last week. There are no plans to discontinue any off-campus programs.
"The international study experience is an integral part of what we do at Wabash," said Ditzler. "Tony was an example of a Wabash student whose first experience in Ecuador lit a fire in him and a desire to gain a better understanding of South America."
The Senior Bench honors Tony Lobdell
Tony Lobdell was president of his class at Franklin Central High School. There he was captain of the national semi-finalist Mock Trial Team; was a percussionist in the marching band and percussion ensemble; captain of the soccer team; a volunteer at the Indianapolis Children's Museum; a member of the Young Democrats; and was an award-winning poet.
At Wabash he was a political science major and Spanish minor who spent the summer of 2003 on the Wabash Ecuadorian Studies Program. He was twice named to the Wabash Dean's List (3.5 grade point average or higher) in his five semesters on campus. He received the Lawrence and Ruth Hunter Endowed Scholarship. He was a member of Delta Tau Delta.
The College will have a private prayer service in memory of Tony Lobdell at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 28 in the Wabash College Chapel.