The parents of a Cornell University sophomore who died in the Fall Creek gorge two years ago are suing the university for negligence in their son’s death.
Nineteen-year-old Khalil King was last seen in August 2010, walking with a friend on the upper gorge trail near a fraternity house. His body was found by emergency workers the next day in the south side of the gorge.
In their lawsuit, Steven King and Alexis Mercedes Godfrey claim Cornell failed to provide adequate lighting, warning signs or barriers preventing access to the gorge, which has a more than 200-foot drop.
Cornell does not comment on pending litigation, but university spokeswoman Claudia Wheatley told the Ithaca Journal that the school believes the lawsuit “is wholly without merit.”
The lawsuit comes several months after the father of a Cornell student who jumped to his death in a gorge on the Ivy League campus also sued the school and the city of Ithaca for $168 million in damages. It contends that school and city officials knew the bridges over Fall Creek in the upstate New York city were a danger but didn’t take adequate steps to make them safe.
Cornell recently announced that it plans to install nets on several bridges over the Ithaca gorges where three students jumped to their deaths in early 2010. School and city officials say Cornell will be responsible for maintenance and inspection costs on all nets to be installed at five bridges.
The steep, rocky gorges bounding the Cornel campus are part of Ithaca’s charm but they also have figured into student suicides for decades.
City and college officials began discussing ways to prevent bridge suicides in the wake of the three 2010 deaths. Temporary chain-link fences were erected and then replaced with less obtrusive black fencing.
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