April 14, 2003

IPD Names Gorge Victim

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The identity of the Cornell University student who fell to his death from the Stewart Avenue bridge into the Cascadilla Gorge late Thursday afternoon has been released by the Ithaca Police Department (IPD).

Karl W. Brown ’04, was currently on leave from the University, according to Linda Grace-Kobas, director of the Cornell News Service.

Grace-Kobas could not comment on the reasons why Brown was on leave.

Brown was “taking leave as a student and working as a temporary employee at North Star [in Appel Commons],” Grace-Kobas said.

According to a news release prepared by the IPD, Brown fell to his death at 5:16 p.m. on Thursday. Members of the IPD, Cornell University Police Department (CUPD), Bangs Ambulance and the Ithaca Fire Department all responded to the scene.

Three friends of Brown who wished to remain anonymous, said in an e-mail to The Sun, “Although brief words are no substitute for having known a man of his character, the following can be said. Karl himself wrote that he was, ‘a misplaced midwesterner with a penchant for growing facial hair, damaging televisions during presidential addresses, and general misanthropic jackassery.’ In the words of those who knew him well, Karl was a true punk rocker, brilliant conversationalist, enormously talented writer, and a dear friend who will be sorely missed.”

According to a report in Friday’s Sun, about 10 onlookers were on or near the bridge at the time of the incident. Individuals who witnessed the jumping death were encouraged to contact the Suicide Prevention and Crisis Center to arrange a meeting to discuss the impact of the event.

The death of Brown comes within two weeks of the death of Vinod Kundnani grad. Although an autopsy of Kundnani has been performed, no cause of death has been determined yet, according to Grace-Kobas.

The medical examiner is currently waiting for the results of toxicology tests being performed on Kundnani. These results sometimes take several weeks, according to Grace-Kobas.

According to Sun sources within the CUPD, however, investigators may be treating the death of Kundnani as a suicide. The sources claimed that when Kundnani’s laboratory partner was questioned, he mentioned that Kundnani had referenced the possibility of committing suicide. Kundnani’s laboratory partner also mentioned that Kundnani may have had a stressful issue possibly bothering him, according to the CUPD sources.

“All options and possibilities are being investigated,” Grace-Kobas said. “Suicide is one option.”

If Kundnani’s death is ruled a suicide, it would be the third student suicide this academic year. Ritesh S. Shetty grad, who disappeared on Sept. 26 of last year, was found in the Six Mile Creek gorge area in late February. An autopsy later performed in Binghamton ruled that Shetty’s death was a suicide caused by hanging.

“Three students in an academic year is unusual,” Grace-Kobas said. The Office of the Dean of Students is currently considering “extra support services or additional outreach,” according to Grace-Kobas.

Memorial services for Brown are being planned by his family in conjunction with The Office of the Dean of Students.

“Sometimes you just can’t predict what someone is going to do,” Grace-Kobas said. Grace-Kobas also commented that students should “take someone seriously when they are experiencing pain.”

Support services, such as Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) at Gannett: Cornell University Health Services, Empathy, Assistance and Referral Service (EARS) and chaplains of Cornell United Religious Work (CURW), are available to students having a difficult time coping with these student deaths.

Archived article by Marc Zawel