Gerald Smith, 22, an Indiana State University senior from Avon, IN, was last seen about 1 a.m. Friday, May 1st, according to a news release issued by the university.
Smith had been at the Ballyhoo Tavern at 900 Chestnut Street in Terre Haute, Indiana celebrating the end of a class project. He was last seen around 12:40 a.m.* outside the bar by a professor who offered him a cab ride home. After refusing the professor's offer, Smith began walking south on Ninth Street.
He was reported missing Friday evening.
Gerald Smith's body was found in the Wabash River on Friday, May 8, the day before he was set to graduate. His mother was presented with his diploma during the school's weekend commencement ceremony.
The Search for Gerald Smith
Friday (May 1) - Smith leaves the Ballyhoo Tavern at 12:40 a.m. walking south on Ninth Street. (Initial reports had indicated he was last seen at 10:30 p.m. Thursday, but ISU Public Safety officials determined this was not accurate.) After he was reported missing Friday evening, the area of campus closest to where he was seen is searched.
Saturday (May 2) - University officials along with 30 volunteers divided the campus into six sectors and searched between 7 and 9 p.m.
Sunday (May 3) - Two teams focused on searching the areas south and west of campus, including the Wabash River bank. Vigo County Sheriff's Department officers on horseback combed the banks of the Wabash River in Fairbanks Park. ISU Police and more than 24 student volunteers walked between Cherry and Ohio Streets, looking around the southern part of campus. According to ISU director of Public Saftey Bill Mercier, a bloodhound also sniffed a trail from the Ballyhoo to First and Chestnut Streets near the water. Mercier told the Indiana Statesman that photos on Smith's Facebook page led them to believe he frequented the river area, so the search effort was concentrated there.
Monday (May 4) - University public safety officers and student volunteers searched at 3:00 p.m.
At approximately 7:30 p.m., on Friday evening (May 8), a local citizen found a body in the Wabash River near Vincennes, IN and alerted authorities. An ID inside a wallet in the pants pocket confirmed it was Gerald Smith who was last seen 50 miles away near the Indiana State University Terre Haute campus a week earlier. Smith's body was still wearing all of the clothes he had on when he disappeared.
Department of Natural Resources officials had been searching near the Wabash River for any sign of Smith during the last few days. Officials discovered the body after a tip from a witness who reported to ISU Public Safety officials that he had seen a man fitting Smith's description near Second and Canal Streets on Friday morning.
An autopsy conducted on Saturday morning (May 9, 8 a.m.) at Terre Haute Regional Hospital by Medical Examiner Dr. Roland Kohr. According to the Indiana Statesman, "ISU director of Public Saftey Bill Mercier said the autopsy revealed that there are no signs of foul play and the cause of death is consistent with accidental drowning."
About Gerald Smith
Friends have described Smith as a good student, very responsible and all-round good guy. "Especially from a student that has a pretty solid reputation as a sold citizen is a matter of concern and doesn't happen very often at all," ISU Police Chief Bill Mercier said.
According to Smith's Google profile, he is a "guy who enjoys scouring the web to learn about the latest and greatest software and hardware releases. My iPhone is my personal assistant. When it comes to my three Windows PCs, customization is the name of the game. I’m a huge fan of Stardock products and anything else that adds to the pc experience. I dabble in HTML but prefer to give my design ideas/thoughts to those who know best. Blogging is something I enjoy because it allows me to share my technical experiences and ideas with the world."
Smith grew up in Avon, IN where he attended Avon High School. In addition to Terre Haute, IN, he has also lived in Overland Park, KS and Kansas City, MO. He is the son of Robin and Billy Hill.
Facts of Interest
Name: Gerald Smith, 22
College: Indiana State University, Terre Haute
Major: insurance and risk management
Hometown: Avon, Indiana
Physical description: 5'7" 160 pounds, brown hair, brown eyes, glasses, light beard. Last seen wearing a red Hawaiian shirt, jeans and brown shoes.
Last seen: Friday, May 1, 2009, 1 a.m., 900 Chestnut Street in Terre Haute, Indiana
Recovered: Friday, May 9, 2009, 7:30 a.m., Wabash River near Vincennes, IN
Cause of death: drowning
Manner of death: accident
Anyone with information about Gerald Smith is urged to call ISU Public Safety at 812-237-5555 or Crimestoppers at 812-238-STOP.
Indiana State University