Clarkson student's death was a drowning, accidental, say police
Monday, October 22, 2012 - 9:14 am

POTSDAM – An autopsy performed Sunday night in the death of a Clarkson University student whose body was found in the Raquette River Sunday revealed that the cause of death was drowning, and has been ruled accidental.

Potsdam Police Chief Kevin Bates said any toxicology will not be available for two to three weeks.

The body of the student was recovered from the Raquette River Sunday following a search by helicopter, watercraft and divers.

Shanith A. Samarasekera, 20, Las Vegas, Nev., was believed to have been struck by a train early Sunday on the railroad trestle adjacent to Sandstone Drive, also known as the bypass.

Samarasekera’s body was pulled from the river in about 12 feet of water at 11:24 a.m. Sunday, according to village police. His identity had been withheld until family members could be notified.

Village police responded at 1:39 a.m. Sunday, along with the Potsdam Volunteer Fire Department, the Potsdam Rescue Squad and the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department. State police assisted with a helicopter during the search.

Police said alerts were generated by SUNY Potsdam and Clarkson University after a witness to the accident stated the victim appeared to be a college-aged male. The police department received notification of a missing person although at the time it was not known if the victim and the missing person were one and the same.

Area fire and rescue services conducted the search in the river.

Coroner June Wood was contacted and his body was taken to Canton-Potsdam Hospital, police said. The autopsy was performed Sunday night.

The investigation is continuing.