Law enforcement recovered the body of a Cornell freshman from Fall Creek Gorge on Saturday afternoon. The tragedy shocked the campus community, as Cornellians remembered Antonio Tsialas ’23, who was 18, as a “gem of a person.”
A remembrance service for Tsialas will be held Tuesday from 4:30 p.m to 5:30 p.m. in the chapel of Anabel Taylor Hall, followed by a reception in the Founders Room.
The Cornell student had been missing since Thursday night, after he was seen leaving a Phi Kappa Psi fraternity party. He met with his mother on Thursday night for dinner and planned to take his parents, who were in town during First-Year Family Weekend, on a tour of the campus over the next few days. His parents reported him missing when he failed to meet with them on Friday, state troopers said.
This semester, Tsialas was taking classes in microeconomics, computing, linear algebra and writing across cultures as an undeclared freshman in Arts and Sciences. He was interested in studying chemistry in the future, Arts College Dean Ray Jayawardhana said in a college-wide email offering condolences.
“A full investigation of the circumstances of his death is underway,” wrote the Cornell University Police Department in a statement Saturday night, continuing that it did not suspect foul play.
His body was recovered near Ithaca Falls in Fall Creek Gorge; he was the fourth Cornell student found dead in the gorge in the last three years. In May 2018, Avram Pinals ’18 was found in the gorge; Winston S. Perez-Ventura ’22, who was 17, drowned in a swimming hole in the gorge in August 2017 and Aalaap Narasipura ’18, who was 20, died in May 2017.
Tsialas graduated from Ransom Everglades School in Miami, where he was involved as a stellar academic, debater and goalie on the soccer team, according to an email sent to the Ransom Everglades community from school headmaster Penny Townsend.
“He was so kind, inclusive, intelligent and personable,” said Cole Hunter ’20 in a message to The Sun, describing Tsialas as a “gem of a person” whom Hunter had interviewed before the freshman was hired as a campus tour guide. He also played on the Cornell Mundial F.C. club soccer team as an outside back.
Vice President for Student and Campus Life Ryan Lombardi notified the Ithaca campus community that Tsalias was missing in an email Saturday afternoon, after the search for the freshman was underway.
Cristian Gonzalez ’20, president of the Interfraternity Council, said that he was alerted by an alumnus that Tsialas was missing on Friday night. He reached out to the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, and said that it “seems like they took the right steps with cooperating with the police.” The Phi Kappa Psi president did not reply to The Sun’s requests for comment.
In the wake of Tsialas’ death, groups across campus held community support meetings for students to share their experiences and speak with mental health professionals. The Student Assembly shared a list of support services and offered condolences on Sunday afternoon.
The president of Cornell’s club soccer team, Alex Jacobs ’20, said the team was heartbroken over the news. Teammate Alex Schindler ’23 described Tsialas as someone who was easy to talk to and said that the pair became close as they went through the tryout process together.
“It was fitting that Antonio was a goalie, as he always seemed to be watching over his teammates,” Townsend said in an email. “He brought energy, enthusiasm and drive to all he undertook, and he elevated the spirits of those around him. He was truly a special young man, and we are all deeply saddened by the loss of Antonio.”
A gofundme campaign started by community members in Florida collected over $19,000 as of early Monday morning to support the Tsialas family.
Teammate Sebastian Barquin-Sanchez ’22 referred to Tsialas as a “little brother.” According to teammate Connor Dolan ’21, the club soccer team plans to retire his jersey number, 19.
Students may consult with counselors from Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS) by calling 607-255-5155. Employees may call the Faculty Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) at 607-255-2673. An Ithaca-based Crisisline is available at 607-272-1616. For additional resources, visit caringcommunity.cornell.edu.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated with the time of the remembrance service.