Texas student declared dead after falling into river during field trip

Friday, June 8, 2012 - 3:00am

A student from The University of Texas at El Paso is missing after he fell into the Colorado River at the Gold Bar recreation area near Moab, Utah, on Wednesday afternoon.

The student, Waley Liang, was participating in a UTEP Geology Club field trip with five other students when he was swept into the river as he tried to cross to an island approximately 50 yards directly across from the recreation area, according to an incident report filed by the Grand County Sheriff’s Office.

"We are extremely concerned for the well-being of Waley, and University is doing everything possible to support the family and to assist the rest of the students who are on the trip," said UTEP President Diana Natalicio.

The students were accompanied on the trip by Jose Hurtado, Ph.D., associate professor of geological sciences, and an adviser to the Geology Club. A parent of one of the students also accompanied them on the trip.

Laura Serpa, Ph.D., chair of the UTEP Department of Geological Sciences, said it is not uncommon for students to participate in field trips such as this one.

"We have numerous field trips year round for geology students," Serpa said. "We are monitoring the search effort in Utah and are ready to assist in any way we can."

The other five students who were on the trip will be flown back to El Paso later Thursday. Counseling will be available for those involved on the trip.

Liang, 21, is a junior and in his first semester at UTEP, having transferred from El Paso Community College. He is a 2011 Franklin High School graduate.

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