Makeshift memorial for Nicholas Garza

MIDDLBURY Police now know more about what happened to Middlebury College student Nick Garza. Garzas body was pulled from Otter Creek May 27 after a four-month long search; autopsy results do not indicate foul play. Police are still trying to piece together how and why Garza, age 19, fell in the Otter Creek. But they believe it could likely have been an accident. Beneath the roaring Otter Creek falls, Middlebury residents are remembering Garza with flowers and a makeshift memorial with Garzas name etched into the wood. Its good to have closure for the family, but our hearts reach out to them, said Middlebury resident Bud Reed. And just a few blocks away in downtown Middlebury, the discovery of Garzas body is still the talk of the town. Its been the topic of discussion since February, said Reed. Its just a shock. Things like that dont happen here, agreed Karen Taylor of Middlebury. Barbara Wheelock of Middlebury said, I cant even believe what it would be like. Im sure its a terrible experience. On the Garza family web site words of support are pouring in every hour. Middlebury Police still cant confirm that Garza drowned, but say they are no indications of foul play. Chief Tom Hanley said there were no wounds to Garza's body, no blow to the head, and no apparent trauma. Hanley and Vermont State Police Lt. Jocelyn Stohl spotted the body May 27 in the late afternoon. Dive teams worked late into the night removing the body from the creek. Garzas cell phone and wallet were found inside the pocket of the jeans. But several unanswered questions still remain. How did he get from Stuart Hall to the creek? What happened? asks Taylor. The Vermont State Police Search and Rescue team revisited the site Wednesday to talk about what happened and to try to learn from the search. Its always hope that man learns from the past. You dont want to come to a situation training, you want to do that beforehand, said Lt. Stohl. And police arent alone in remembering Nick Garza. His memory will live on in the hearts of students on the Middlebury College campus and in this community reluctant to say goodbye to a young student who died well before his time. The medical examiner confirmed Garza's identity through dental records. Police are still waiting on toxicology reports from the lab and will continue to investigate Garzas disappearance. Nick Garzas mother Natalie did not want to be interviewed, but she provided a written statement: Nicholas had a wit that was quick, smart and sure, but moreover, humble. We will miss his thick black hair and easy laughter. Nothing in life has prepared us for such a loss. Thank-you to the thousands of letters, e-mails and prayers.

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