Colleagues remember faculty member who drowned in Wisconsin River

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UPDATE (WKOW) — A family is grieving the loss of a Madison father who drowned while trying to rescue his children from the Wisconsin river.

Friends, family and coworkers are remembering Kou Her as a passionate man, dedicated to improving peoples lives.

“Kou is a real hero to many people,” Chris Vandall, who worked with Kou at Madison College, said.

A GoFundMe.com page has been set up HERE.

Kou went missing Saturday morning on the Wisconsin river during an outing with his wife and 3 children, all younger than 9.

According to deputies, Kou and his wife swam into the river to get their kids who were drifting away while swimming.

He brought one of them to shore, but when he went back out, he slipped under the water and drowned.

His wife and other 2 kids were rescued.

His body was found downstream, 10 miles away.

Vandall and Kou her worked together at Madison area technical college for years.

When he got the news Saturday, he didn’t want to believe it.

“Like many parents, I’m sure Kou never hesitated in doing what he had to do to save his children,” Vandall said.

He said that Kou had spent nearly 30 years working at the college helping students get their high school diplomas.

“Every day he was passionate about serving students, passionate about working with his colleagues,” Vandall said.

But he says Kou’s work extended far beyond the college campus, being a leader in helping plan the Hmong New Year.

His culture was very important to him.

“Kou was involved in a lot of different kind of work and is going to be missed by everyone,”

He posted frequently on his YouTube page.

He shared videos of his wife and children and his work as an amateur Christian music artist.


MADISON (WKOW) — Madison College today expressed condolences to the family of a faculty member who drowned over the weekend in an accident on the Wisconsin River near Prairie du Sac.

“Our hearts go out to the family of Kou Her, who passed away this weekend after an accidental drowning,” the college posted in a tweet. “He was a full-time faculty member in the School of Academic Advancement for 29 years. Kou provided instruction for high school completion programs. He will be missed.”

Funeral services and visitations will be Friday and Saturday, according to Madison College.

Visitations: Friday, July 19, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, July 20, from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Services: Friday, July 19 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday, July 20, 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.
Burial Service: Saturday, July 20, 12:30 p.m.
Funeral Home: Gunderson Funeral Home, 1150 Park Street, Oregon, WI 53575, (608) 835-3515
Cemetery: Highland Memorial Gardens, 3054 County Road BB, Madison, WI 53718

In lieu of flowers, the family is asking that donations be made to the Kou Her Children’s Memorial Fund at Summit Credit Union. (Kou leaves behind three children under the age of 9).

According to Sauk County Sheriff’s officials, the family was fishing and swimming Saturday near the dam at Prairie du Sac.

Her and his wife went out to rescue their three children, who were wearing life jackets, after they had gone too far out into the river.

“He was able to redirect one of them back to shore, but when he went back out for the other two, he got caught up in the fast current and went under and was not seen again,” according to the sheriff’s office.

Her’s wife was dragged downstream with the other two children and had to be brought back to shore by rescue teams.

Her’s body was discovered the next morning by boaters about 10 miles downstream from Prairie du Sac between Mazomanie and Arena.

Francisco Almenara

Francisco Almenara

Reporter, WKOW

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