Nathaniel Rand '12, a human development major in the College of Human Ecology from New York City, and Stanislaw J. Jaworski, 26, a graduate student at the University of Gdansk, Poland, who was interning in chemistry this summer, died July 2 in separate accidents in the Fall Creek Gorge area.
Rand drowned while swimming in a prohibited area near the Ithaca Falls. Earlier in the day, Jaworski apparently lost his footing and fell while walking off-trail along the Fall Creek Gorge east of the Cornell Hydroelectric Plant.
Ithaca Police, with assistance from Cornell Police, have determined there was no indication of foul play in either incident, and the investigations are continuing.
"The beautiful streams and gorges that run through our campus are among the attractions that Cornellians, members of our community and visitors to our region treasure," wrote Cornell President David Skorton in a condolence message sent to the Cornell community July 3. "But the enjoyment of these natural areas comes with a clear responsibility for personal safety and the observance of posted regulations and barriers promoting safety and limiting access to these areas. It is immensely sad when the price for this enjoyment becomes the injury or death of someone we know and love."
He added that in the weeks ahead, officials will explore how to better foster even greater observance of existing and, if necessary, additional safety precautions.
These are the second and third gorge deaths in the past six weeks. Kendrick Castro, 22, of Reston, Va., died in a swimming accident in Fall Creek Gorge May 30, the day after he graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences in information science.
Rand's funeral was held July 5 in New York City; plans for commemorations on campus for the two students will be made in the days ahead in consultation with their families.
For more information on safety regulations within Ithaca's natural areas and a list of guarded areas available for swimming, visit the Gorge Safety page on the Office of the Dean of Students website.
Support services are available to all members of the Cornell community. Students may consult with counselors from Gannett Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) by calling 607-255-5155. Students may also speak with a peer counselor by calling EARS at 255-3277. Employees may call the Faculty Staff Assistance Program (FSAP) at 800-327-2255 (select option 1 for EAP). An Ithaca-based CrisisLine is available at 272-1616. For additional resources, visit the Caring Community site.