Any person.
Any study.
Any Cornelliana.

An alumni
blog about Ezra's
University. (more)


Suggestions? Tips?




[+] Cornell News

[+] Higher Ed News

[+] Campus Pubs

[+] Alumni Interest

[+] Diversions

[+] Blogs

[+] Sports

[+] Other Places


[+] By Month

[+] By Author

Further Info on Lowe's Death

Based on what was reported yesterday, there seems to be some conflicting information in the tragic drowning death of Doug Lowe '11.

First, whereas the Ithaca Journal originally reported:

Kelsey Space, a recent Cornell graduate, said she saw Lowe slide down the falls and into the water below. She turned away, Space said, then heard a muted cry for help and turned back to look at the water.

The Ithace Police Department's official report claims:

The incident was first reported at approximately 6:04PM. Lowe was swimming with a friend and went under as they were preparing to get out of the water. Several attempts were made to locate Lowe by his friend and other swimmers who dove into the area where Lowe was last seen.

So was Doug climbing on the waterfalls or swimming in the water at the time of the accident?

Then there is the question of water flow. The police report claims:

The water flow in the gorge at the time of the incident was relatively calm due to a lack of recent rain.

But the USGS gauge reading on Fall Creek demonstrates that at the time of his death, the reading was 48 cubic feet per second several miles upstream from the Suspension Bridge location, and that a significant rain event within the last day had brought that reading up above 100.

For comparison purposes, in August, when most Cornell freshmen first get introduced to the Fall Creek swimming hole, the readings are often around 25 cubic feet per second, or about half the force experienced on Thursday afternoon.

I'm most surprised by one aspect to the story. Apparently the water in which Lowe drowned is 25-30 feet deep. I knew the hole was probably over 10 feet deep , but never assumed it to be more than 20 feet deep. As reflected in the gorges themselves, it's amazing how strong the force of water is.

Of course, not even 24 hours after the incident, students were already back to swimming at the same location of Lowe's death:

On Friday at about 2:30 p.m., police responded to a report of 20 or so swimmers in and around the area where Lowe's body was recovered. The swimmers said they were asked by police to cross to the opposite side of the gorge and refrain from swimming near the falls.

Chapter 250 of the City of Ithaca code, Peace and Good Order, states, “No person shall bathe in, swim in, or for purposes of swimming and/or bathing enter any of the waters within the City of Ithaca except in the waters officially designated as swimming or bathing areas.”

Swimmers said they were not, however, asked to leave.

“We come here all the time, but we stay away from where the current is strong,” said Kalie Stoneman, one of roughly a dozen sunbathers. “It's sad that we've gotten used to it.”

Evan Uheu, a Cornell senior, said that he lived less than a hundred yards from where he lay on a towel. Convenience, and the cleanliness of the water, he said, would keep him coming back.

“I don't like to swim below the gun factory,” he said. When asked specifically whether Lowe's death would deter him in any way, he paused.

“I didn't jump off the falls today,” he said, “but I probably will in a week.”

Simeon Moss, press relations director for Cornell, said the university is developing new literature regarding gorge safety to be made available during the upcoming freshman orientation.

In addition, Moss said that Cornell publishes several pamphlets and devotes a great deal of energy to signage that warns against the dangers of swimming in the gorges and reservoirs in the Ithaca area.

Acting Ithaca Police Chief Ed Vallely said they rely chiefly on education, working with Cornell to publicize the dangers of these illegal swimming areas.

Good. Education and public awareness of the dangers are the key, not excluding gorge access to all.

A picture of the Fall Creek swimming hole during Reunion Weekend '08:

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on June 14, 2008 (#)

blog comments powered by Disqus

Other Recent Posts

-- WSJ: Cornell Wins NYC Tech Campus Bid (EBilmes)

-- Barrier Update: City Approves Nets (DJost)

-- Big Red Cymbal Guy (Nagowski)

-- New York Times Survey on Campus Recruiting is Flawed (KScott)

-- Barrier Update: Legal precedent suggests City of Ithaca will not be held liable for gorge suicide (DJost)

-- Despite MSG Loss, Big Potential for Big Red Hockey (EBilmes)

-- City Council Will Vote on Suicide Nets (DJost)

-- An Encounter on the Upper East Side (Nagowski)

-- Showing Off Your School Spirit (Nagowski)

-- Chipotle Ithaca? (KScott)

-- Cornell at the ING NYC Marathon (KScott)

-- Crossing Over a Fine Line: Commercial Activity on Campus (KScott)

-- Milstein's Downfall (Nagowski)

-- Can any Cornell-associated organization really be independent of the University? (Nagowski)

-- Slope Media Revisited (EBilmes)

-- Slope Media Group Approved for Byline Funding (KScott)

-- Occupy AEM? (KScott)

-- New campus pub to be good for both Greeks and non-Greeks (Nagowski)

-- Gagging the Election (Nagowski)

-- The Changing Structure of Rush Week (Nagowski)

-- Ivy League Humility in the Midwest (EBilmes)

-- Of Median Grades and Economics Minors (Nagowski)

-- Homecoming Recap (Nagowski)

-- My Cornell Bookshelf (Nagowski)

-- The Sun's Opinion Section Has Suddenly Gotten Good (Nagowski)

-- Remembering the 11th (Nagowski)

-- Cornellian Tapped as Top Economic Advisor (Nagowski)

-- Cutting Pledging, and the Good Which Comes With It (EBilmes)

-- Why Cornell Should Not Close Fall Creek Gorge (Nagowski)

-- Welcome to the Class of 2015 (Nagowski)