On Monday, October 2, his body was found in 10 feet of water near a levee in the Mississippi River close to the south end of Riverside Park. The autopsy report, completed by Dr. Lindsey Thomas, indicates there were no signs of trauma, no signs of a struggle, no signs of foul play. Homan's blood alcohol content was .32; authorities believe he drowned accidentally.
About Luke Homan
Homan's high school basketball team at Brookfield Central went to state two of the three years he played varsity ball, and Homan set a school record for three-point shots, with 165, and made 16 free throws in one game. In college at UW-Milwaukee, Homan joined the basketball team as a walk on. He played in nine games during the 2004-'05 season when the Panthers advanced to the NCAA Tournament's Sweet 16 before transferring to LaCrosse. At La Crosse, he played in all 28 games for the La Crosse Eagles this past season and helped deliver the school's first 20-victory season in more than two decades.
On 9/22/07, The LaCrosse Tribune reported:
Austin Scott, 19, of Palatine, Ill., is the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse sophomore accused of lying about events leading up to the disappearance and drowning death of fellow UW-L basketball teammate Lucas Homan last fall.
He will spend 48 hours in the La Crosse County Jail after pleading no contest Friday to two misdemeanor counts of obstructing officers.
La Crosse County Circuit Judge Elliott Levine also gave Scott a year on probation after he leaves jail at 6 p.m. Sunday.
"Whether or not he had anything to do with Luke's death, we don't know, and we might not ever know," La Crosse County District Attorney Tim Gruenke said in court Friday. "But he still obstructed the investigation into that death and threw a cloud over it that will remain probably forever."
Homan's body was recovered from the Mississippi River off the Riverside Park levee Oct. 2, 2006. An autopsy showed cold water drowning, with acute alcohol intoxication as a major contributing factor.
A group of Homan's friends said they last saw the 21-year-old from Brookfield, Wis., with Scott at The Vibe, 332 Jay St., about 9 or 10 p.m. Sept. 29, 2006. But Scott told UW-L police he saw an intoxicated Homan leave The Vibe alone about 12:30 a.m. Sept. 30, according to the criminal complaint.
Scott was cited at 9:58 p.m. Sept. 29 for underage drinking near the Radisson hotel, the complaint reported. A blood test at Franciscan Skemp Medical Center registered a 0.33 percent, Gruenke said.
"The number of lies he was telling, all of them seem to be going the same direction -- he doesn't want police to know he was in Riverside Park," Gruenke said. "... We don't know why he lied and that's the mystery here. "Scott told authorities he doesn't know how he got to the Radisson or the hospital, but remembered heading from the hospital back to UW-L's Sanford Hall dorm. He later said he recalled "sitting at The Vibe, I ... would never leave him in the water" but could not elaborate, according to the complaint.
Scott said it was possible he and Homan were in Riverside Park together that night and Homan fell in the river -- his best guess was Homan tripped -- but he could not remember, according to the complaint.
He said he gave investigators a false story of three men arguing with Homan at the Vibe on Sept. 29 because he didn't know what happened, according to the complaint. That led police on a "wild goose chase" for men who didn't exist, Gruenke said.Defense attorney Mark McCabe said Scott admits lying about his birthdate, address and walking home from the bar, but objected to all other facts in the complaint. He stressed Scott has no memory of that night.
"This community is frustrated by eight separate river deaths that have occurred, there's no question about that," McCabe said. "My client is not to blame for all of those prior deaths. My client is not to blame for Luke Homan's death."
Scott apologized to "everyone" Friday and said it was wrong to lie about that night. "My heart goes to out to Luke's parents," he said. "I wish I knew what happened. The Homans would be the first people I would tell."
Patti Homan said she "truly, truly believes Austin knows what happened that night," but asked Levine to spare him from jail."I want for Austin to have a happy, productive life," she said. "The only way he's going to be able to do that is if he actually tells what he knows --even if it's the worst, even if he pushed Luke into the water, even if it's that, I'd wrap my arms around him right now and tell him we'll get through this."
Since Homan's death, city leaders have enacted a public intoxication ordinance and spent about $60,000 on fencing in Riverside Park. A consortium of local medical centers is studying ways to reduce alcohol-related injuries. Three colleges have also launched a safe drinking campaign.
Facts of Interest in this Case
Name/age: Lucas Homan, 21
College: University of Wisconsin, La Crosse (transfer from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee)
Physical description: 6'3," athletic build (basketball player)
Last seen: 09/20/06, early a.m., The Vibe bar at 322 Jay Street
Recovered: 10/02/06, Mississippi River levee near Riverside Park
Cause of death: drowning
Injuries: no signs of foul play or trauma
Blood Alcohol Content: .32