A Cornell-bound teen from The Bronx who was set to start classes in two weeks drowned Saturday while swimming in a gorge upstate, cops said.
Incoming freshman Winston Samuel Perez-Ventura went for a dip in Fall Creek near Ithaca Falls just after 2:30 p.m. and never resurfaced, according to Ithaca police.
The New York state dive team searched the gorge waters for more than four hours before eventually recovering his body around 7:20 p.m., authorities said Sunday.
Perez-Ventura had been getting ready to start his first semester at the university’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning.
The soon-to-be Ivy Leaguer was in town for the on-campus Prefreshman Summer Program, according to school officials.
“As a high-school student, Winston participated in The Fellowship Initiative, an enrichment program for young men of color,” Ryan Lombardi, Cornell vice president for Student and Campus Life, said in a statement Saturday.
“He was an exceptional person who would have contributed greatly to our university community.”
Perez-Ventura made headlines last year with his acceptance to Cornell after his reaction was caught on camera and posted by ABC News.
Born in the Dominican Republic, Perez-Ventura reportedly came to the US when he was 9 and moved to The Bronx with his mother.
It had been his dream to attend Cornell.
“As an immigrant sometimes we cannot have maybe so much of a heritage to leave to our kids,” the teen’s mother, Agnelli Gutierrez, told ABC after he was accepted to Cornell. “But education is the main thing that we can definitely get for them.”
A GoFundMe page was created Sunday to pay for Perez-Ventura’s funeral. As of Sunday night, it had already raised more than $11,000.
While it’s technically prohibited, swimming at Ithaca Falls has become a popular pastime for Cornell students over the years — so much, in fact, that the university requires a swim test for all freshman. It is unclear if Perez-Ventura had taken his course yet.