August 29, 2010

Emergency Crews Recover Body of Khalil King ’13 From Gorge

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Updated, 11:45 p.m.

Rescue workers recovered the body of Khalil King ’13 from the Fall Creek Gorge east of the Stewart Avenue Bridge at around 1 p.m. on Sunday, according to officials.

King was last seen around 3 a.m. on Saturday when he was walking with a friend on the upper gorge trail behind McGraw Place on West Campus.

“The friend reported that King saw something that alarmed him and ran west,” Cornell Director of Press Relations Claudia Wheatley said in an e-mail. “The friend lost contact with King and attempts to call or locate him throughout [Saturday] were unsuccessful.”

A Cornell student reported to Cornell Police at 8:05 p.m. on Saturday that King was missing, and authorities immediately launched a search of the gorge where King was last seen, Wheatley said.

The Ithaca Fire Department used a spotlight to scan the area, but the search efforts were called off at about 12:30 a.m. Sunday because of “the hazardous terrain and darkness,” according to a statement from Ithaca Fire Department Deputy Chief Tom Parsons.

The search resumed at 8:30 a.m. on Sunday. A state police helicopter unsuccessfully searched the gorge, but emergency workers on the ground were able to use a tracking K9 to narrow the search location.

King’s body was found at approximately 1 p.m. in “a deep pool of water east of the Stewart Avenue Bridge,” according to Parsons.

Firefighters and emergency responders removed King’s body from the gorge using the Willard Way tunnel on the south side of gorge. Bangs Ambulance transported the body to Cayuga Medical Center.

“At this time, foul play is not suspected,” Wheatley said.

“We feel very confident [King’s death] was accidental,” said Kathy Zoner, chief of the Cornell University Police Department. “He got startled by something.”

The Ithaca Police Department is continuing the investigation.

Friends described King as a great dancer, rapper and artist. He would occasionally enter friends’ rooms at 3 a.m. to freestyle rap, said Will Gent ’13, who met King during their freshman year.

“It was always fun hanging out with him,” Gent said. “You always knew you’d have a great story to tell at the end.”

Friends gathered during “Unity Hour” at Ujamaa Sunday night to share memories of King. More than 100 people attended, including Dean of Students Kent Hubbell ’67 and other student support personnel, according to Shane Seppinni ’13.

Some of King’s friends are making plans to sell t-shirts in his memory, Gent said. The proceeds will help King’s family pay for funeral costs and other expenses.

Wheatley said that plans for a memorial service for King are being made in consultation with his family.

King, 19, was from Buffalo, N.Y., according to his Facebook profile.

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Original Author: Sun Staff