PROVIDENCE, R.I. (MyFoxBoston.com/AP) –
A body pulled from waters off a Providence park was that of a 22-year-old Brown University student missing since last month, the Rhode Island medical examiner's office said Thursday.
Sunil Tripathi was identified through a forensic dental exam, but a cause of death has not been determined, said Dara Chadwick, a spokeswoman for the state health department.
Tripathi's family, of Bryn Mawr, Pa., said it was overcome with grief but grateful for the outpouring of support relatives got over the last month.
"As we carry indescribable grief, we also feel incredible gratitude," the Tripathi family said in a statement on a Facebook page set up to help find Tripathi, who went by Sunny. "To each one of you — from our hometown to many distant lands — we extend our thanks for the words of encouragement, for your thoughts, for your hands, for your prayers, and for the love you have so generously shared."
Tripathi's body was found Tuesday by members of the Brown crew team off of India Point Park and was brought to shore by its coach, Providence Police Cmdr. Thomas Oates said. He said the body had been in the water for "some time."
Tripathi's family had been searching for him since mid-March with help from the FBI and fellow Brown students. His sister, Sangeeta, said he left his phone, wallet and other belongings in his apartment near campus and simply disappeared. He was on leave from the Ivy League school, where he was studying philosophy, and had been going through a difficult time, she said.
Last week, speculation swirled on Twitter and the website Reddit that Tripathi was the second of two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombings because some thought he resembled one of the people in photos released by the FBI. That person turned out to be 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, authorities said.
Reddit later apologized to Tripathi's family for fueling "online witch hunts and dangerous speculation which spiraled into very negative consequences for innocent parties."
Tripathi's family said in its statement Thursday that the last month "has changed our lives forever, and we hope it will change yours too."
The family went on: "Take care of one another. Be gentle, be compassionate. Be open to letting someone in when it is you who is faltering. Lend your hand. We need it. The world needs it."
Brown President Christina H. Paxson sent a message to the campus community Thursday, saying Tripathi — the brother of two Brown graduates— would be remembered for his "gentle demeanor and generous spirit." She described him as an accomplished saxophonist and a "serious, thoughtful, intellectually curious student and a brilliant writer."
Statement from Tripathi's family:
On April 23, our beloved Sunil was discovered in the waters off India Point Park in Providence, Rhode Island.
As we carry indescribable grief, we also feel incredible gratitude. To each one of you-from our hometown to many distant lands-we extend our thanks for the words of encouragement, for your thoughts, for your hands, for your prayers, and for the love you have so generously shared.
Your compassionate spirit is felt by Sunil and by all of us.
As these days have shown us, the media is a powerful tool to be used carefully. We hope you continue to exercise caution and treat human lives with delicacy.
This last month has changed our lives forever, and we hope it will change yours too. Take care of one another. Be gentle, be compassionate. Be open to letting someone in when it is you who is faltering. Lend your hand. We need it. The world needs it.
We appreciate the coverage and support, but at this time, we ask for privacy for our family and for our love for Sunny.
The Tripathi Family
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