July 4, 2011

Two Students Die in Fall Creek Gorge in Separate Incidents

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Updated 9:15 p.m.: Cornell Police will step up patrols in gorges near campus after two students died within hours of each other in the Fall Creek Gorge Saturday. Both deaths appear to be accidental and unrelated, officials said.

In one incident, Nathaniel Rand ‘12 and a group of Cornell students were swimming in the gorge around 4 p.m. when Rand became trapped underneath the water near Ithaca Falls, according to Blaine Friedlander, assistant director of Cornell press relations.

Members of the Ithaca Fire Department tried to rescue Rand but could not find him, according to an Ithaca Police Department press release. The New York State Police dive team was called to the scene to help recover his body. They found the body at about 8:55 p.m., the press release stated.

The incident occurred just three hours after police and firefighters recovered the body of Stanislaw Jaworski, 26, farther upstream, just east of the hydroelectric plant. Jaworski fell into the gorge after apparently losing his footing while walking along the gorge trail, according to an email sent to the Cornell community from President David Skorton.

Jaworski was a graduate student from the University of Gdansk in Gdansk, Poland. He had been interning in chemistry at Cornell this summer.

In the email to the community, Skorton urged students to follow rules prohibiting swimming in the gorges and said that Cornell and Ithaca police would be stepping up patrols in the coming weeks to enforce the posted regulations.

“In the weeks ahead, I will work with my colleagues and interested parties in the community to explore the best ways to foster even greater observance of existing and, if necessary, additional safety precautions,” Skorton wrote.

Skorton said that though the gorges are attractions that Cornellians and visitors treasure, precautions must be taken in Cornell’s natural areas.

“Your respect for both existing rules and common sense precautions, as well as your encouragement of others to do the same, are critical to the safety of all in these beautiful yet challenging natural areas,” he stated.

Plans to commemorate the lives of the two students will be made in the coming days in consultation with the victim’s families, Skorton said.

These were the second and third accidental deaths in the Fall Creek Gorge this summer. Kendrick Castro ’11 died in a swimming accident in the gorge on May 30, the day after he graduated from the University. Castro was wading upstream with friends in the area of the Stewart Avenue bridge when he slipped and was swept downstream, according to a press release from the University.

Peter Jacobs and Liz Camuti contributed reporting to this article.

Original Author: Juan Forrer