Ithaca, N.Y. — The 19-year-old man found dead near Ithaca Falls Saturday has been identified as Cornell University sophomore Phillip Zukowski.
Zukowski attended high school in Queens and had transferred to Cornell last fall from Grinnell College, a small liberal arts school in Iowa, according to a statement from Ryan Lombardi, Cornell’s vice president for Student and Campus Life. He said Zukowski had lived in the on-campus Becker House and was a member of the Phi Kapp Tau fraternity.
“On behalf of the university, I offer my deepest condolences to Phillip’s family and friends,” Lombardi wrote. “Please join me in keeping them in your thoughts as they grieve this unimaginable loss.”
Zukowski’s body was found at Ezra’s Tunnel near the Ithaca Falls Natural Area, police said. Officers responded to the call at about 10:48 a.m., according to a news release issued by the Ithaca Police Department. Police said the death does not appear to have been caused by a criminal act.
Anyone near North Willard Way and Ezra’s Tunnel between 1 and 10 a.m. Saturday is asked to call the Ithaca Police Department at 607-330-0000 or provide information through the anonymous tip form at www.cityofithaca.org/ipdtips.
Ezra’s Tunnel is a 200-foot long industrial sluiceway created in the early 1830′s by a co-founder of Cornell University, Ezra Cornell, according to the Cornell Chronicle. The tunnel sits on land owned by the city.
A steel gate was constructed by the university in 2018 near the tunnels entrance after two students drowned — one in 2011 and the other in 2017 — in the popular swimming hole at the end of the tunnel, according to the Ithaca Voice.
More recently, a section of the gate had been illegally removed by unknown entities, allowing anyone to pass through, according to the Voice.