Emergency personnel recovered the body of a college-age male from the water under a bridge in Ithaca’s Fall Creek Gorge on Friday afternoon.
Ithaca Police Sgt. Michael Gray said the victim appeared to be about 21 years old. In a statement late on Friday night, Gray said police were able to identify the man and notified his family. The sergeant said police are withholding the man’s name at this time.
A pedestrian on the north bridge of Stewart Avenue reported seeing a body in the gorge below at about 1:30 p.m., Vincent Monticello, deputy chief of the Ithaca Police Department, told The Sun near the scene.
Gray said a forensic autopsy was scheduled “for a later date” to determine the cause of death.
Personnel from the Ithaca Fire Department, Bangs Ambulance and Cornell Police Department descended on the scene and accessed the gorge via Ezra’s Tunnel, using a key to open a recently-installed gate.
Rescue workers parked on Willard Way near the Sigma Nu fraternity house and shut down traffic across the Stewart Avenue bridge for several hours. The bridge was reopened to traffic late on Friday.
At least one medical examiner arrived on the scene and entered the gorge. The examiner declined to comment while leaving the scene at about 4:15 p.m.
Friday’s death marks the third time a person has been found dead in Fall Creek Gorge in just over a year. Aalaap Narasipura ’18, 20 years old, was found under a Stewart Avenue bridge on May 19, 2017; the cause of death was never released but police ruled out foul play. Winston S. Perez-Ventura ’22, 17 years old, drowned in the Fall Creek Gorge in August of 2017 during a Cornell pre-freshman program, a death that spurred efforts to erect a gate in front of Ezra’s Tunnel.
Ithaca Police are leading the investigation, and a Cornell spokesperson, John Carberry, said University police had joined the effort “after the report of a body in the water.” New York State Police are also assisting in the investigation.
Police asked anyone with information regarding the death to call Ithaca Police at 607-272-9973 or 607-272-3245.