SUNY Cortland student dies in kayaking accident

CORTLAND, N.Y. – A SUNY Cortland student was killed after his kayak overturned in the Seneca River Saturday morning, the college announced Wednesday.

Robert Mead, 27, of Syracuse, went missing Saturday after his kayak overturned near a dam in the village of Baldwinsville, according to the Onondaga County Sheriff’s Office.

Mead had been kayaking with his younger brother, Joseph, 25, who was also killed.

The two men were seen fishing off of kayaks in the river at around 11 a.m. Saturday. Their bodies were found Tuesday, about two miles downstream from where they were reported missing.

Deputies say the river had a strong current due to recent storms in the area. One of the kayaks bumped into the wall of the dam and overturned, sending the kayaker into the water. The other man paddled over to to assist him and his kayak also became caught in the current, deputies say.

“It appears at this time that neither man was wearing a life preserver when they entered the water,” the sheriff’s office said Tuesday.

Mead was a graduate student in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Leisure Studies who helped run the college’s community bike program, the college said. He was scheduled to return in the fall to help oversee the college’s sport clubs.

“By all accounts, he was a wonderful young man and an important part of SUNY Cortland’s recreational sports program,” college president Erik Bitterbaum said in a statement.

The college plans to share information about memorial services when it becomes available. Another memorial event will likely be held in the fall.

Here’s the full statement from President Erik Bitterbaum:

To the SUNY Cortland community,

It deeply saddens me to report the unexpected death of Robert Mead, a graduate student in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Leisure Studies who was killed this weekend in a kayaking accident on the Seneca River in Baldwinsville, N.Y. Robert, 27, had been kayaking near a dam with his brother Joseph, 25. Joseph was also killed in the unusually swift current.

As a graduate assistant, Robert worked in Recreational Sports and helped run the College’s community bike program. He was scheduled to return in the fall as the graduate assistant in charge of sport clubs. By all accounts, he was a wonderful young man and an important part of SUNY Cortland’s recreational sports program.

The college will share information about memorial services when it becomes available. We anticipate hosting an appropriate event in Robert’s memory this fall, after students return from summer break.

Campus Counseling Center staff members are available to support and assist any member of the College community who would like to talk with someone. Summer hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday in Van Hoesen Hall, Room B-44. They can be reached at 607-753-4728.

Erik J. Bitterbaum
President
SUNY Cortland


 

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