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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Kayaker who died identified as GU student Christopher Gormley

Gonzaga University officials Monday identified the victim of a weekend kayaking accident as a first-year honor student from Everett.

Christopher J. Gormley, the son of Chris and Susan Gormley, died after being pulled from the icy water of Rock Lake in northwestern Whitman County on Sunday afternoon.

He was one of seven people on a Gonzaga outdoors program outing offered through the Spokane Parks Department.

Gormley was one of three participants who went into the water when wind-whipped waves caused their watercraft to tip. The air temperature was 34 degrees, according to the Whitman County Sheriff’s Office.

Gormley was taken to a Spokane hospital for treatment of hypothermia but did not survive, the Sheriff’s Office said on Sunday.

One of the other participants was hospitalized and has since been released, GU officials said.

One kayaker paddled to shore to call for help. Rescuers found Gormley and another man in the water wearing life jackets about a mile north of a boat launch along Rock Lake Road, sheriff’s officials said.

Gormley was a graduate of Henry M. Jackson High School in Everett. He was an Eagle Scout and had celebrated his 18th birthday last Tuesday.

He had acquired enough credits to be a junior at Gonzaga. He was a recipient of numerous scholarships, was in the Gonzaga honors program and was a political science major. He was a member of the Residence Hall Block Council, and he appeared this year on stage in a GU production of “The Three Musketeers.”

GU President Thayne M. McCulloh said in a news release that the university community was profoundly saddened to learn of Gormley’s death.

In an email letter addressed to “The Gonzaga Community,” McCulloh extended sympathies to the Gormley family along with students and staff. He wrote “the entire Gonzaga community is with you at this time of sadness and loss.”

Spokane Mayor David Condon also extended his sympathies to the family and friends on behalf of the city. In a statement, Condon said, “My heart goes out to all who knew and loved this young man.”

City officials said GU’s outdoor program organized the trip and hired the parks department to provide transportation, equipment and one guide.

That guide, Brandon LeBaron, a seasonal city employee, reportedly went into the water to try to help a participant who had already gone into the lake, city spokeswoman Marlene Feist said. LeBaron ended up swimming to shore, she said.

A memorial Mass is set for 12:10 p.m. today in the University Chapel with Rev. Timothy Clancy presiding along with Rev. Kevin Connell.

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