March 12, 2010

03/12/10: Matthew Zika, 21, Ithaca, NY

On March 12, 2010, the Ithaca Police Department began investigating the death of Cornell University engineering student Matthew Zika, who died near the suspension bridge over Fall Creek Gorge. According to the Cornell Daily Sun, "police first responded to Fall Creek Gorge at around 3:45 p.m. Friday afternoon [March 12.] The IPD temporarily closed the suspension bridge and the Stewart Avenue Bridge after a motorist reported seeing a man drop from the suspension bridge. Other witnesses found an unattended jacket and backpack containing a wallet, cell phone and other personal possessions on the suspension bridge."

On March 22, reported that the death had been ruled a suicide. Zika's tragic death gained much attention because it occurred the day after another engineering student, William Sinclair, committed suicide in the same gorge. The previous month, Bradley Ginsburg's body was also recovered from the gorge, and later ruled a suicide. (Ginsburg's parents told, they are not convinced their son would have harmed himself.)

About Matthew Zika
On a memorial Facebook group, Matthew Zika's friends describe him as "a quiet, sweet guy" who enjoyed movies, baseball, and was funny, smart and talented.  "I could tell he was a great guy from the minute I met him," said one friend. "Just one of those people that you could be friends with right away." He once gave another friend this bit of advice, "My hope in living life is that if one day someone told me it would be my last, I could smile and nod knowing full well that I did all I could with the time I was given. Only put off until tomorrow what you'd be okay with never having done."

Matthew Zika's obituary, published in the Ithaca Journal on March 23, 2010, reads:
WEST LAFAYETTE - Matthew C. Zika, 21, of West Lafayette, died Friday, March 12, 2010, at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Born January 23, 1989 in Lafayette, he was the only child of Charles J. "Chip" Zika of West Lafayette and Brenda Thompson Zika of Parkersburg, West Virginia.

Matt graduated from Wm Henry Harrison High School, West Lafayette, Indiana in May 2007 where he was a member of the National Honor Society, won numerous writing awards, and earned a perfect ACT score. Matt enjoyed being a member of the Harrison Swim Team and was a star on the Raider's varsity baseball team - holding hitting records that still stand. He played in the Colt World Series for two seasons with Hoosier North and was a member of the Red Storm travel team. A junior at Cornell University, Matt was an Operations Research major in the College of Engineering where he was an Irwin and Joan Jacobs Scholar. He was scheduled to finish a year early and graduate this May. Matt had accepted a position with a healthcare software company in Wisconsin. Matt was employed as a student manager at Cornell's Robert Purcell Community Center Dining. He also worked as a seasonal engineering technician with the City of Ithaca, Department of Public Works. During his freshman and sophomore years at Cornell, Matt was proud to serve as a volunteer firefighter for the Cayuga Heights Fire Department.

Surviving with his parents are maternal grandparents Carroll W. and Mary Lou Thompson of Parkersburg, West Virginia; two aunts, Joyce Cooper (husband, Daniel) of Belpre, Ohio and Susan Warmsby (husband, Victor) of Atlanta, Georgia; three uncles, David Thompson (wife, Renee) of Gilbert, Arizona, Brian Thompson of Diana, West Virginia, and John Zika (wife, Karen) of Statesville, North Carolina.

Also surviving are nine cousins. He was preceded in death by his paternal grandparents, Charles A. and Elizabeth Zika of Western Springs, Illinois; and his aunt and uncle, Dr. Edwin and Rosemary "Rosie" (Zika) Williams of Ada, Ohio.

Memorial visitation 5-8 p.m. Saturday, March 27, 2010, at Hippensteel Funeral Home. Services at 3:00 p.m. Sunday, March 28, 2010, at University Plaza Hotel, Grand Ballroom, West Lafayette. In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorials be made to Harrison High School for the Matthew Zika Memorial Scholarship Fund, 5701 North 50 West, West Lafayette, Indiana 47906.

Hippensteel Funeral Service entrusted with care. Share memories and condolences online at

No comments: