September 6, 2000

Woman Dies in Accident at Falls

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Juri Zalalutdinov entered the North Point waters of Taughannock Falls State Park early Saturday evening to steal a few hours of snorkeling from the murky beachfront before season’s end.

Then at about 4:30 p.m., the 28-year-old disappeared into the weeds 15 feet beneath the water’s surface and out of sight from her husband, who had been snorkeling with her at the time.

Before 5:00 p.m. Maxim Zalalutdinov, the victim’s husband notified park officials, and together with lifeguards and instructors in the area the party returned to the approximate location of the incident. Rescuers scour the scene at vast lengths Saturday — but to no avail.

Zalalutdinov’s body was discovered early Sunday morning following a full-scale search of the woman’s likely whereabouts. The rescue mission — involving the state Park Police, Tompkins County Sheriff’s deputies and volunteer firefighters from Trumansburg and Enfield — had been suspended Saturday night due to darkness and unsafe water conditions, but Sunday morning in calm waters, Zalalutdinov’s body was recovered.

The couple had been swimming in a no-swimming area where the weeds fill the water, according to Trumansburg Assistant Fire Chief Ron Ferrentino who served as incident manager Saturday night. These conditions, along with the evening’s choppy waters may have contributed to the accident, he told The Ithaca Journal.

Zalalutdinov and her husband, Maxim, came to Ithaca from Japan to take classes at Cornell. While her husband has been working toward a postdoctoral physics degree, Zalalutdinov pursued studies in the University’s Intensive English Program.

The University awaits plans to hold a memorial service for Zalalutdinov.

“We have not yet heard of any arrangements for any services as of this evening,” said Linda Grace-Kobas, director of the Cornell news service.

Grace-Kobas added that grieving friends should seek support from counseling services within the Cornell community.

Archived article by Matthew Hirsch