U.S. college student missing in Costa Rica

January 5, 2011

Erik Downes, a pre-med student at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, Georgia is missing and presumed dead after getting caught in a rip tide while swimming Tuesday near Domincal Beach in the Southern Zone, according to the Costa Rican Red Cross.

Red Cross spokesman Freddy Roman said that rescuers from Ciudad Cortés are searching for the Florida native, but there were no further details at press time.

Downes is a pre-med student and vice president of the student body at Oglethorpe University, a private, liberal arts college. He traveled to Costa Rica with a group of Oglethorpe students for an environmental study abroad trip.

Oglethrope University sent an e-mail to students updating them on the situation.

“The thoughts and prayers of the entire Oglethorpe community are with Erik and his family and many friends,” said President Larry Schall in the email. “In a close-knit community of 1,100 students, this is having an impact on everyone.”

Dean of Students Michelle Hall said the school would be providing counseling services for students as they returned from winter break Sunday. Other students swimming with Downes at the time of the incident were uninjured.

The school will hold a candlelight vigil for Downes at 7 p.m. on Thursday.

Check ticotimes.net for updates on this situation.

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