University alums killed in storm
Published: Thursday, September 1, 2011
Updated: Thursday, September 1, 2011 03:09
The bodies of two university alums who went missing during the hurricane were found in a swollen tributary near Newark on Monday, ending a nearly 24-hour search for the missing men.
A state police search and rescue team discovered the bodies of Christopher Valentine and Jean Baptista, both 25, who disappeared Saturday night as Hurricane Irene moved through New Castle County.
Two search teams discovered the bodies in Mill Creek, a tributary of White Clay Creek, at approximately 1:50 p.m. near the Delaware and Pennsylvania border. The bodies were turned over to the state coroner's office to determine cause of death.
Valentine was a marketing major who graduated from the university in 2008, and Baptista graduated in 2009, with a degree in civil engineering.
Both men were reported missing by Valentine's mother at 2:41 p.m. on Sunday, after the storm had cleared. Police officials are currently unsure what occurred between their departure and the moments leading to their deaths.
Witnesses placed the two men at a restaurant in the Shops at Limestone Hills in Pike Creek, before they were reportedly received a ride to a house in Cameron Hills, a neighborhood in Hockessin.
The two friends reportedly attempted to walk two miles to the home of Valentine's parents close to midnight Saturday. They never reached their destination, and authorities used their phone records to provide a starting point for rescue teams, which was focused on the area around Lancaster Pike near the Pennsylvania border. Gov. Jack Markell expressed condolences and sorrow over the deaths of the two men.
"While we had hoped and prayed our state would get through this dangerous hurricane without the loss of life, we now know that is not the case," Markell said in a statement. "I offer my condolences to the families and friends of Christopher Valentine and Jean Baptista, as I know this will be a time of great difficulty for their families and those close to them."
The deaths of Valentine and Baptista were the only casualties reported in Delaware. At least 46 people have been reported dead across the East Coast in Irene's wake.