Please Just Let It Stop

13 03 2010


ITHACA — Emergency personnel temporarily suspended the search for a body in Fall Creek on Friday evening.

A driver on Stewart Avenue saw a person drop from Suspension Bridge into Fall Creek gorge about 3:45 p.m. Friday, Ithaca police said. Ithaca police, Cornell Police officers and Ithaca firefighters tracked the body as it traveled downstream toward Stewart Park, and a helicopter joined the search, they added.

Firefighters launched an inflatable boat and searched Fall Creek from its mouth at Cayuga Lake to where the Route 13 bridge crosses it, Ithaca fire officials said. Their part of the search operation was suspended because of darkness, they added.

Efforts to recover the body were unsuccessful because it “frequently disappeared from view,” police officials said. Though they may have identified the person, information was being withheld until they recover the body, confirm the identity and notify the next of kin, they added.

The search may resume today, fire officials said.

Meanwhile, a body recovered in Fall Creek gorge under the Thurston Avenue Bridge on Thursday was identified as Cornell University student William Anthony Sinclair, 19, of Chevy Chase, Md., Cornell officials said. A utility crew working on the underside of the bridge saw Sinclair’s body sometime after 11 a.m., Ithaca police officials said.

Ithaca police, Cornell University Police, Ithaca firefighters and Bangs Ambulance personnel responded to the scene, police said. Using a rope system, four Ithaca firefighters descended to the north embankment and recovered Sinclair’s body. Cornell Transportation Services and Cornell Environmental Health Services assisted at the scene.

Sinclair was a sophomore in the College of Engineering, and Ithaca police and Cornell Police were investigating his death, Cornell officials said.

“On behalf of the entire Cornell community, I wish to convey my heartfelt condolences to the family of our student, William Sinclair, and to his many friends who will always carry the memory of happier times in their hearts,” said Cornell President David Skorton. “Please join me in keeping them foremost in your thoughts in the days ahead, as we mourn this tragic loss of life.”

They wouldn’t be able to comment until the investigation is complete, Skorton said.

Further information on Sinclair, along with information on counseling and psychological services can be found at


David J. Skorton

show details 12:11 am (1 day ago)

Dear fellow Cornellian,

It is with deep sorrow that I write to you regarding another death that has occurred in our campus community. Matthew Charles Zika, a junior in the College of Engineering, died this afternoon. While the cause of this tragedy is still under investigation by the Ithaca Police Department, I join all of you in grieving deeply this and the other losses we have experienced together so very recently.

I have asked Susan Murphy, Vice President for Student and Academic Services, to take charge in reaching out to the entire Cornell community, and to do a welfare check throughout the university’s residential community this weekend. She has already arranged for Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) to be open for students, faculty and staff, Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Vice President Murphy and her colleagues will be communicating in the days ahead to all of us. Please feel free to respond to her with your concerns or ideas.

As a doctor, teacher and father, I, too want to reach out personally to each one of you – especially our students. I want you to know that it is normal to feel sad or anxious at times, particularly when such tragedies occur. Roommate conflicts, relationship problems, financial challenges and especially academic stress are just some of the pressures that can make us think that things are too difficult.  Your well being is the foundation on which your success is built.  You are not alone. Your friends, your family, your teachers, your colleagues, and an array of counselors and advisors are ready to listen and help you through whatever you are facing. If you learn anything at Cornell, please learn to ask for help. It is a sign of wisdom and strength.

Cornell is a caring community where the struggles of one of us is a concern for all of us.  You can help by checking in with your classmates, roommates, colleagues and friends to make sure they are well. It is important to take the time, regularly, to reflect on the many things for which we are grateful and on how best to overcome, together, the daily challenges we must face.  This is the time to be with and for one another.


David J. Skorton


Eleventh undergraduate student fatality for the year, twelfth total. Third fatality in a month that involved the gorges. Police and security are currently being stationed on all the bridges to prevent further incidents.

Sincerely, please just let it stop. If these are suicides, nothing is worth doing this over.



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