Update 3:11 p.m. on Thursday – Ithaca Police have identified the body of a man who jumped into Fall Creek Tuesday as William Ruoff, 60, of Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.

Police used a forensic dental examination to confirm the man’s identity, Officer Jamie Williamson said.

Ruoff jumped from a ledge on the northwest side of the gorge, about 500 feet west of the intersection of Stewart Avenue and Fall Creek Drive, Williamson said. The Stewart Avenue Bridge was not associated with the incident.

In a news release Tuesday, police said the man was 25-to-35-years old but updated the information in their newest statement.

Earlier reporting: 

Update 5:20 p.m. —

A body has been found near Ithaca’s Stewart Park Tuesday afternoon, ending an hours-long search from local law enforcement, according to Ithaca fire Lt. Thomas Basher.

Earlier in the day, a man was seen jumping off a ledge by the Stewart Avenue Bridge in the city of Ithaca. He was seen being swept over the Ithaca Falls.

That set off a recovery effort that appears to have ended slightly after 5 p.m. on Tuesday.

The body seems to have been found a few hundreds feet from the Ithaca Fire Department’s training center.

Chief John Barber says the body was found by a state police helicopter after being dislodged.

UPDATE 3:12 p.m. — Police said a New York State Police SCUBA Dive Team and helicopter have started helping with the search. They’re also now identifying the man as being 25 to 35 years old.

UPDATE —

ITHACA, N.Y. — A man is thought to be dead after reportedly jumping near Ithaca’s Stewart Avenue Bridge Tuesday afternoon into rapid waters below, according to law enforcement.

“It appears to be more of a recovery as opposed to rescue mission at this point,” Ithaca Police Officer Jamie Williamson said. “We’re pretty certain that the subject is deceased.”

Around 12:28 p.m., Ithaca police and two members of the Cornell Environmental Safety Team saw a man between 40 and 50 years old from a ledge by the bridge at the 800 block of Stewart Avenue.

The officers tried helping the man, but he fell over the falls, according to Williamson. (Williamson said he wasn’t sure what dialogue, if any, was exchanged between the authorities and the man.)

Ryan Landvater/Ithaca Voice

Some photos from the scene:

Emergency crews are now searching at the inlet and in Cayuga Lake for a body.

They are also in contact with the New York State Police Scuba Team, which may be called to search for the body.

Complicating the search effort, according to Williamson, are the unusually fast water levels that could make entering the falls more dangerous. Police may also try to use a helicopter for the search effort.

The command center has been set up at the Ithaca Fire Department training center by Stewart Park.

Earlier —

Ithaca, N.Y. — Emergency responders are searching the area of the Ithaca Falls Tuesday morning after receiving a report that a person had fallen in from a bridge.

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That information comes from the Tompkins County 911 Dispatch Center, which stressed that the report is preliminary and unconfirmed.

Photo by Jolene Almendarez

Dispatchers say they had a report of a person at the Stewart Avenue Bridge followed by another report that someone “went over.”

Cornell police, Ithaca police, Ithaca firefighters and Bangs Ambulance are among the agencies at the scene.

Ithaca police are the lead agency in the investigation.

We have a reporter at the scene and will provide updates as they become available.


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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.