Ithaca gorges are 'truly gorgeous and truly dangerous'

Ithaca gorges are 'truly gorgeous and truly dangerous'

ITHACA, NY -- An incoming Cornell student is dead after drowning in Ithaca Falls.

The university is speaking out about the hidden dangers of swimming in the gorges.

Ithaca police were called to Ithaca Falls near Fall Creek Drive Saturday afternoon. Police say Winsotn Perez-Ventura entered the waters to swim, but never came up.

Divers recovered his body about five hours later, investigators say he had gotten trapped in an eddy.

The Ithaca Gorges bring many people to visit for a hike, to read a book or just take in the captivating views.

"Central New York is known for it's gorges and Ithaca has some of the best ones around," said Todd Cowen, a professor at Cornell University.

Cornell professor, Todd Cowen, of civil and environmental engineering said it can be hard to say no to a swim in the falls.

"Waterfalls are very attractive and water in general always attracts people , so it draws in people," added Cowen.

Just looking at the surface of the water or to see if the areas around you are shallow can be deceiving because it's hard to tell what's going on underneath the surface.

"It will go along the rock, the rock will drop down, we don't see that and it comes back up so the water that flows over that rock, an eddy will form here and those are the particularly dangerous areas because we don't see those currents," explained Cowen.

These spots are called eddies the water flows sideways and in a circle.

They can happen on the surface too, but are more dangerous underneath because of the fractures in the gorge.

If you get stuck, it's extremely hard to get out even if you are an experienced swimmer.

"Over the years, we've seen a number of accidents that happen in the gorges or in Cayuga Lake. They tend to happen when people are swimming in areas they shouldn't because they cannot see currents and even though the water looks placid there are strong currents underneath, so if you enter a place that looks safe, the reality is you may not be," said Cowen.

If you see areas where foam has built up, it's another indicator that the current is particularly strong.

The safest thing to do is to admire the beauty from a distance and swim in areas where it's allowed.

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