August 18, 2009

08/02/99: Rashad Burnley, 20, Toronto, ON, Canada

Rashad Lateef Burnley, a twenty year old student at Wooster College in Ohio was with a tour company attending a Caribana music festival in Toronto, Canada. On Sunday, August 2, 1999 Rashad and six of his buddies went to a bar on Polson Street. Friends later told the family that Rashad was shouting and acting strangely. "At one point he began running backwards" and a car bumped into him. Rashad was last seen running from his friends outside the bar on Polson Street.

His body was recovered ten days later in the Toronto Harbor.

About Rashad Burnley
According to Rashad's family, he was a social drinker only and was popular, outgoing and smart. The family said there was no reason for him to disappear.

Rashad is the only child of the Reverend Lawrence "Larry" Burnley, former Associate Minister at the Christian Association (1991-1993) and Director of Greenfield Intercultural Center (1993-1996). Mr. Burnley had served as an executive for the Racial and Ethnic Constituency Education and Deveopment Board for the United Church Board for World Ministries.

Search and Recovery
The Toronto Marine Unit divers searched the Polson Street Slip where Rashad was last seen by his friends as he went running from them.

Police divers searched Lake Ontario while Rashad's family and volunteers continued their own search moving to the near by beach and woods. His family believed he was still alive, and at worst, merely injured.

Rashad Brunley's body was recovered ten days later after being spotted by a jogger in the Toronto Harbor.

Memorial Service
A memorial service was held on August 23, 1999. The Rev. Larry Burnley recieved condolences at his address in New Rochelle, NY.

Rashad's father later stated his son died as a result of a drowning accident in Toronto, Ontario. On April 14, 2000, the family gathered to celebrate what would have been Rashad's 21st birthday. His father said Rashad loved God and had demonstrated passion for helping people. He believes his son is an angel watching over his family.

A college scholarship was set up in Burnley's name at Shaker Heights High School in Shaker Heights, Ohio.

Facts of Interest
Name/age: Rashad Burnley, 20
College: Wooster College, Wooster, OH
Hometown: Shaker Heights, OH
Last Seen: 8/2/99, Polson Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Recovered: 8/12/99, Toronto Harbor, Toronto, Ontario, Canada


Posted 8/18/09.


Anonymous said...

No, it doesn't sound like there was a reason for this poor kid to disappear either, but he was running backwards down city streets and bumping into moving vehicles for christ's sake. Is it that much of a stretch to think he fell into the water himself and drowned? Under the circumstances I think not. All of these young men were severely intoxicated on alcohol. When are people going to realize alcohol is a drug as dangerous if not more so than any other? There are more deaths resulting from alcohol each year (both alcohol poisoning/overdosing and accidental deaths like this one plus driving accidents) than from ALL illegal drugs combined. Also, you never hear about someone shooting up heroin and killing someone else in the process. But how often does a drunk driver kill innocents? Ok, off my soap box and sorry for going off topic. Just can't stand society demonizing the use of some illegal drugs while proclaiming the use of alcohol socially acceptable and a-ok.

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Jennifer Green said...

I went to the College of Wooster with Rashad, we were not the best of friends but we had some friends in common and were both in the Black Student society. I was quite the party girl back then and I never once saw Rashad with a drink in his hand. I never accepted the story that he was out drinking and drunkenly fell in the river. Someone had to have put something in a non-alcoholic drink that he had, I just can't picture him getting drunk and doing this. He had plenty of chances to get his party on at campus and he never did.

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