On March 11, 2010, rescue workers from the Ithaca Fire Department recovered the body of William Sinclair, a sophomore mechnical engineering student in the College of Engineering, from the Fall Creek Gorge near the Thurston Avenue Bridge.
He was 19 years old and a native of Chevy Chase, MD.
A utility crew doing work on the underside of the Thurston Avenue Bridge notified 911 around 11 a.m. of the discovery of a body near the Thurston Avenue Bridge. Police and rescue crews from the Ithaca Fire Department recovered the body of William Sinclair from the Fall Creek Gorge at 12:44 a.m. According to the Cornell Daily Sun, "A rescue crew consisting of four Ithaca firefighters entered the gorge from the north side of the creek using a rope system down the steep enbankment," Ithaca Police Lt. Vincent P. Monticello said in a statement. "At 12:44 p.m., the body was secured and removed from the gorge by the four-person IFD crew and several additional firefighters and rescue personnel [who] were topside." The bridge was reopened to vehicular and pedestrian traffic at around 1 p.m.
Cornell President David Skorton, sent and e-mail to students on March 11, conveying his "heartfelt condolences" to Sinclair's family and friends. He also acknowledged, "the toll we all may be experiencing from repeated losses already this year." The incident comes less than a month after Bradley Ginsburg ’13 was found by police in the Fall Creek Gorge on Feb. 18. Skorton urged students to reach out to "classmates, roommates, colleagues and friends to cherish the memories you have of those who have departed us, and to renew your commitment to each other. It is important to take the time, regularly, to reflect on the many things for which we should be grateful and on how best to overcome, together, the daily challenges we must face."
The Ithaca Police Department, in collaboration with the Cornell University Police Department, investigated. On March 24, the Associated Press reported that Cornell University had confirmed that the death was a suicide.
About William Sinclair
An article by the Cornell Daily Sun, Sinclair is described as "a passionate and gifted student, [who] was known as a friend of many international students. Having come from a diverse household and grown up in various places, he recognized the value of fostering relationships with students from around the world." Chris Ober, Interim Dean of the College of Engineering, told the Sun that Sinclair, "spoke of wanting to be the first to reach out to international students in a classroom at Cornell, because he knew the value of a friend in a new country.”
The Sun also reported that Sinclair, affectionately called "Axel," was an avid automobile enthusiast, a jazz and physics enthusiast. Sinclair was taking Physics III: Oscillations, Waves and Quantum Physics. His professor, Robert Thorne said in an e-mail to the class, “I knew William as a curious, warm and gentle person of great promise. This is a terrible loss.”
Ober also told the Sun, “It is tragic when a promising young life is cut short, and to hear of Will’s passion and dreams for the future is to truly understand what we’ve lost,” Ober added. “Together we share this grief and will find ways to honor his life.”
William's Sinclair's obituary reads:
SINCLAIR WILLIAM ANTHONY SINCLAIR Of Chevy Chase, MD. Loving and caring son and brother, Sophomore at Cornell Engineering, child of God, lover of the outdoors and jazz music, Eagle Scout. Born April 10, 1990. Died March 11, 2010 of a fall into Fall Creek Gorge, Ithaca, NY, aged 19. He is survived by his father, William and his sister, Diane, both of Chevy Chase, MD. A memorial followed by a reception will be held at 12 noon, Saturday, March 27, 2010 at Chevy Chase United Methodist Church, 7001 Connecticut Ave., Chevy Chase, MD 20815.