Drowning Case Goes to Grand Jury
Paul Smiths, New York - November 9,
The case involving two Vermont students who drowned at Paul Smith's
College last May has gone to a Franklin County, New York, grand jury.
The grand jury could recommend that charges be brought against anyone
who allegedly purchased alcohol for the two underage students.
Sean Cornell, 20, and Lee Walker, 18, drowned last May when they were
returning from a party and their canoes overturned on lower St. Regis
Lake. Police say alcohol contributed to the deaths. The investigation
into the matter was put on hold until students returned for the fall
There was no indication when
the grand jury will rule on this case
By REBECCA STEFFAN, Enterprise
PAUL SMITHS — The bodies of two Paul Smith’s College students
from Vermont have been found after a search that began after their canoe
capsized late Friday night on Lower St. Regis Lake, near the campus.
A state police dive team recovered the body of Sean W. Cornell, 20, of
Manchester Center, Vt., on Sunday in the lake off the shore of Paul Smith’s
College. The body of 18 year-old Lee Walker, of Enosburg Falls, Vt., was found
by divers late Saturday afternoon.
Cornell and Walker were part of a six-member canoeing party that took two canoes
onto the lake around 11 p.m. Friday. The students were reportedly heading to
Peter’s Rock on the opposite shore from campus and were about 100 feet out into
the water when their canoes capsized. Friday was the last day of classes before
Several PSC students reported hearing shouts coming from the lake and rushed to
the shore, helping four of the six students out of the water, said Ken Aaron,
director of communications for the college.
Three of the students who fell into the lake were taken to the Adirondack
Medical Center in Saranac Lake, where they were treated and released. Their
names have not been released.
A gathering this morning on campus honored Cornell and Walker and showed
appreciation for the work done by the New York State Police and other agencies
that responded to the incident, as well as the swift actions by Paul Smith’s
students who were the first on the scene Friday night.
About 900 people attended the service. Paul Smith’s College enrolls about 850
‘‘Our entire community is deeply saddened by this loss,’’ said John Mills, the
college’s president. ‘‘Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of both
these young men.’’
On Saturday afternoon, the mood on campus was somber. Several students lined the
shores in a quiet vigil while state police, forest rangers and local fire
departments searched for the missing students under the water and by helicopter.
Members of the Paul Smiths/Gabriels Volunteer Fire Department blocked off the
main entrance to the campus and were only letting students and faculty in.
At about the same time the canoes capsized, a powerboat hundreds of yards away
also flipped, but the occupants were safe and did not require treatment,
according to Aaron.
Both accidents are under investigation by state police.
Contact Rebecca Steffan at 891-2600 ext. 25 or
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