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Gonzaga University Mourns Loss of 1st-Year Student Christopher J. Gormley in April 1 Kayak Accident

Gonzaga University mourns the loss of first-year student Christopher J. Gormley, 18. Photo courtesy of Gonzaga University Theatre.

SPOKANE, Wash. – Gonzaga University President Thayne M. McCulloh said the University was profoundly saddened to learn of the accidental death on the afternoon of Sunday, April 1 of first-year student Christopher J. Gormley, 18, from Everett, Wash., after the kayak he was paddling capsized at Rock Lake in Whitman County.

“All of us at Gonzaga join together to extend our deepest sympathies to Chris’ parents, Chris and Susan Gormley, his 13-year-old brother, Tim, and his entire family,” Dr. McCulloh said today. “To his Gonzaga family, as well – his friends, hall mates, classmates, professors and other acquaintances – please know the entire Gonzaga community is with you at this time of sadness and loss.”

Chris, who just celebrated his 18th birthday on March 27, was an Eagle Scout and attended Henry M. Jackson High School in Everett. Although he was a first-year student, he had acquired enough credits to be a junior, and was the recipient of numerous scholarships. Chris was in the Gonzaga Honors program, a political science major and a member of the Residence Hall Block Council. He appeared on stage in Gonzaga’s production of “The Three Musketeers” earlier this year. His parents said Chris’ dream was to attend Gonzaga, which he loved, and he was proud to be a Zag.

A memorial Mass is scheduled for 12:10 p.m. Tuesday (April 3) in the University Chapel with Rev. Timothy Clancy, S.J., presiding along with concelebrant Rev. Kevin Connell, S.J. The University Chapel is located on the third floor of College Hall (formerly the Administration Building).

One other student on the trip was treated and released from a hospital as a result of the accident. All other students and guides returned safely. The event was organized through the Gonzaga Outdoors program in contract with the City of Spokane Parks and Recreation Department.

“The Gonzaga family offers thoughts and prayers to these community members so deeply impacted by the tragedy,” President McCulloh said. “Our thoughts are also with the Gonzaga Outdoors staff, guides and all student participants. Such a heart-breaking loss is borne through our faith, and our love and support for each other.”

The Whitman County Sheriff’s Office is the law enforcement agency handling the accident – which remains under investigation – and should be the contact for media seeking more information and specifics about this tragedy.

Cards may be sent to the Gormley family through Gonzaga’s student life office: Student Life; Gonzaga University; 502 E. Boone Ave., AD 72; Spokane, WA, 99258

For more information, please contact Mary Joan Hahn at (509) 313-6095 or Peter Tormey at (509) 313-6132.

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