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Body Of UTEP Student Who Drowned In Utah Has Been Recovered

The body of UTEP student Waley Liang was recovered on Saturday, according to the Grand County Sheriff’s Office in Utah.

Liang, 21, died in a drowning incident along the Colorado River while on a field trip with the UTEP Geology Club on June 6.

?This was a very unfortunate and tragic accident,? UTEP President Diana Natalicio said in a statement. ?I want to personally express my deep condolences to Waley?s family. While we cannot know the depths of their grief in losing their son, the UTEP family will do what we can to help comfort them.?

Liang went missing after falling into the Colorado River at the Gold Bar recreation area near Moab, Utah, on the afternoon of June 6. He was participating in a UTEP Geology Club field trip with five other students when he was swept into the river as he tried to cross to an island about 50 yards directly across from the recreation area, according to an incident report filed by the Grand County Sheriff?s Office.

?Our hearts go out to Waley?s family and friends,? Catie McCorry-Andalis, associate vice president and dean of students for UTEP, said in a statement. ?He was an engaged student who brought so much to the University community. We are deeply saddened by this loss of one of our students.?

ABC-7 spoke with Liang’s visibly upset father on Wednesday.

“I told (Waley) to be safe and he said, ‘OK dad, OK dad,'” Tony Liang said. He described his son as a good kid. Tony flew out to Utah on Friday.

Tony said his son was always studying, but also dedicated time to his church. Twice a week, the 2009 Franklin High School graduate gave rides to those who wanted to attend Mass at church.

The UTEP students on the field trip were accompanied by Jose Hurtado, Ph.D., associate professor of geological sciences, and an adviser to the Geology Club. A parent of one of the students also accompanied them on the trip. The five students returned to El Paso on Thursday and counseling has been made available to those who seek the service.

Laura Serpa, Ph.D., chair of the UTEP Department of Geological Sciences, said it is not uncommon for students to participate in field trips such as this one.

?The loss of any student is devastating but I felt particularly close to Waley because he was new at UTEP and I was his academic advisor and teacher,? Serpa said. ?He did not hesitate to take the most difficult courses and he clearly had the potential to succeed as a geophysicist and to make major contributions to science. He also had a gift for making friends and he will be missed by all of us who knew him at UTEP.?

Liang was a junior and in his first semester at UTEP, having transferred from El Paso Community College.

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