How did Aalaap Narasipura die? Why is Cornell University PD not revealing details?

Aalaap Narasipura. Photo courtesy: Cornell University.

NEW YORK: The death of 20-year-old Aalaap Narasipura, a senior at Cornell University, whose body was found by scuba divers from a body of water known as Fall Creek, near Ithaca Falls, New York, on Friday, May 19th, two days after he went missing, is shrouded in mystery.

Narasipura’s death is unfathomable for many reasons. The cause is yet to be revealed by the Cornell University Police Department. A statement, though, was released saying that investigation is on, but they don’t suspect any “foul play”.

What led to the police issuing a statement tantamount to the fact that Narasipura’s death is not a case of murder or an egregious crime?


The police issued the statement the same day Narasipura’s body was found after large-scale search operations for two days. Should we assume that police has already determined that Narasipura committed suicide?

If that’s indeed the case, why?

What led to the young man taking his life? If the Cornell PD has determined that there is no “foul play” why are they not revealing details behind the cause of death? The autopsy’s done – did he drown, or was he dead when he hit the water?

Going by statements issued by Cornell, local newspaper reports and his social media postings, Narasipura, who was from the Salt Lake City area of Utah, had a bright, lucrative career ahead of him. He was popular among friends and peers, especially for his photography. He certainly was not an introvert, somebody who lacked friends, or had a dismal social life.

On the contrary, Narasipura seemed to have a good social life on campus, with a passion also for the sport of Frisbee, which no doubt, helped him socialize and helped make plenty of friends.

He also kept himself busy on campus. A Linkedin account created by Narasipura shows that he was the creator of a website for three years – to showcase his works of photography.

Even those who are not avid photography buffs can understand visiting the website that Narasipura was a really talented photographer, with an expert eye for intricate detail and effect, which he brought out in gorgeous, creative fashion in both color and black and white photography.

Narasipura was also quite the busy bee on campus, juggling the demands of his strenuous academic schedule with work – to no doubt alleviate also some of his expenses for travel photography. He was making money working in AV and Tech Support at the Cornell Law School, for the last 10 months. On his Linkedin account, he has also listed past summer internships. All of it points to a committed, disciplined young man, with respect for work ethics.

Narasipura was set to graduate in December of this year with a bachelor’s in electrical engineering; with a fulfilling, lucrative career ahead of him. He had also announced his intention to do a master’s program in electrical engineering. A statement, somebody who intends to take his own life, does not necessarily put out.

All that changed, perhaps, on Wednesday, May 17th, when Narasipura went missing. He was last seen in Sage Hall on Cornell’s campus Wednesday morning between 2 and 3 a.m., according to the Cornell University Police Department.

Cornell University

ABC News reported New York state and local authorities from multiple agencies searched Narasipura’s residence, academic spaces and regular routes of travel as well as adjacent natural areas and gorges around the Ivy League university. They did not find any evidence of his whereabouts until coming across his body in Fall Creek on Friday morning, police said.

Police had previously released a photo and description of Narasipura in hopes that members of the public could provide any leads.

In a statement issued upon word that police had found Narasipura’s body, Ryan Lombardi, vice president for student and campus life at Cornell, said the “ambitious” senior electrical engineering student was set to graduate early this December.

“It is with profound sadness that I write with the news that law enforcement search teams have recovered Aalaap Narasipura’s body. No foul play is suspected, and a full investigation of the circumstances is underway,” he said.

Apart from his studies, Narasipura was also “active on the school’s Ultimate Frisbee team, enjoyed taking photos and planned to continue at Cornell to pursue a Master of Engineering degree,” according to Lombardi.

“As we all struggle to process Aalaap’s death, I encourage you to reach out to others for support,” Lombardi told Cornell students in the statement Friday. “On behalf of the Cornell University community, I extend our deepest condolences to Aalaap’s family and friends as they grieve this tragedy. They are in our thoughts as we all come to grips with the enormity of this loss.”

In an earlier statement, Lombardi said he was in “regular contact” with Narasipura’s family.

The Cornell Daily Sun reported Narasipura, often called Appa, lived in Utah until he came to Cornell in 2014 to study electrical engineering.

Friends say he developed his passion for science during high school, when activities like robotics allowed him to experiment with technology. Still, he always split his time between the lab and the dark room, where he would spend hours developing his pictures, according to Narasipura’s childhood friend Rahul Mukherjee.

After he came to campus, he continued to pursue engineering projects and to photograph. He also joined the ultimate frisbee team, which quickly became one of his favorite hobbies.

“He was always the one saying ‘let’s go outside,’” remembered Dhruv Gaba, one of Narasipura’s friends and a fellow engineering student, the Cornell Daily Sun reported.

His other interests, though, started to merge as time went on. He looked at science creatively and at art mechanically.

His room was filled with knick knacks, like old TV sets or radios, that he liked to take apart and put back together, Gaba said. When something was broken, he tried to find ways to make it new again.

“He would always find the good in everything,” Gaba said.

His Instagram feed is full of graphics that show symmetry or repetition, creating patterns from randomness, noted the Cornell Daily sun. The first portfolio showcased on his website, called Transcendence, shows close-up images of plants that are eventually integrated with, then subsumed by, images of machines. There is also a section of travel photography, with images from several countries he’s visited.

One of Aalaap’s photos on Instagram shows his brother Eshan taking a photo, with Aalaap poking good humored fun at him, through the caption accompanying the photo.

“I just remember him showing me his website on day one of college, and being totally floored,” said Cameron Pollack, The Sun’s photography editor. “He looked 18 but shot, even two years ago, like he’s 60.”

His friends say they will remember Narasipura for his fun, quirky personality and his steadfast loyalty to the people around him.

Calls by News India Times to Cornell’s Media Relations department and the Cornell PD got the same response, that there were no more updates, apart from what has already been issued. No statement was issued when asked the cause of Narasipura’s death.

On Monday, Cornell held a memorial gathering to celebrate the life of Narasipura, at Sage Chapel. A reception followed in Willard Straight Hall.

Will it ever be revealed as to what led to the death of a bright young man in one of America’s finest universities?

Narasipura is survived by his father, Jayadatta, a software engineer at IHC, an alum of University of Hyderabad, who himself got an engineering degree from B. M. S. College of engineering in India; his mother, Sandhya, and his brother, Eshan.




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