Body recovered Saturday evening after search for missing person

The New York State Police dive team recovered a body at about 7:20pm from the Fall Creek Gorge, nearly five hours after Ithaca and Cornell police and fire personnel began a search for a swimmer who went missing in the Fall Creek gorge, according to the Ithaca Police Department.

The victim was identified as Winston Perez-Ventura, according to IPD. Cornell University has confirmed that this young man from Democracy Prep Harlem High School was to begin a Bachelor of Architecture program at Cornell later this month.

The incoming student was accepted to Cornell early decision last fall, and was the first student from his school to be accepted to college. He was in Ithaca “with fellow incoming students participating in the on-campus pre-freshman summer program,” according to Ryan T. Lombardi, Cornell’s vice president for student & campus life.

Cornell officials say a community support meeting will be held at 11am on Sunday for those in Ithaca this weekend, at the Cook House Dining Room on Cornell’s west campus.

Emergency responders on the Stewart Avenue bridge over Fall Creek on Saturday. 14850 Photo.

“Officers were dispatched to the Ithaca Falls near Fall Creek Drive regarding the report that a person had entered the gorge waters to swim but had not resurfaced,” at about 2:33pm, according to IPD public information officer Jamie Williamson.

The search was focused on the area of the Fall Creek gorge west of the Cornell University campus and above the Ithaca Falls, near Stewart Avenue, after a swimmer went missing, say officials.

A New York State Police helicopter and New York State Police dive team were searching the area on Saturday afternoon to assist in the search.

Just this morning, the Ithaca Fire Department issued a reminder of “the dangers of swimming in our gorges. Underwater currents, loose shale, and other dangers make our gorges and waterways dangerous if not enjoyed responsibly and safely.”

“People are expected to follow signs that prohibit swimming and trespassing,” says the Ithaca Fire Department.

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