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Enthusiastic Lake Placid newcomer mourned after fatal waterfall accident

LAKE PLACID — An accidental fall that claimed the life of Garsevan Bekauri, 23, is believed to have occurred on Monday evening, two days before another hiker found him dead at the bottom of a waterfall.

Essex County Coroner Frank Whitelaw said Bekauri died within seconds of falling, probably a little after 5 p.m. on Monday. Whitelaw said Bekauri took a selfie with a digital camera at 5:05 p.m. in the Cascade Falls area, between Upper and Lower Cascade lakes.

Bekauri was due in to work at 6 p.m. Monday in Lake Placid at the Top of the Park restaurant, where he was a bartender, but he never showed up, according to Bill Bentz, one of the owners of the restaurant.

“He was a great kid for sure,” Bentz said.

An autopsy was conducted by Dr. Cara Soper at Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital in Plattsburgh, where the cause of death was determined to be head injury due to blunt force trauma. The manner of death was ruled an accident.

Around 8:15 p.m. on Wednesday, State Police responded to a call from a hiker who had found Bekauri’s body. The state Department of Environmental Conservation, the Keene and Keene Valley volunteer fire departments and Whitelaw also responded to the scene.

Bekauri appeared to be a well-liked young man. He had run cross country at Geneva High School, and on the public Facebook group Geneva Cross Country, coach Sarah Eighmey wrote of how talented he was and how much energy he had. The post received dozens of shares and reactions.

“May you all go out and run, push yourself a little farther today, tomorrow and for as long as you can,” Eighmey wrote. “With a very heavy heart I ran this morning with thoughts and memories of Garsevan Bekauri.”

One comment on that post told a story about how, while Bekauri was a counselor at the high school, he had taken a swim in a pond.

“He was covered from head to toe in pond muck,” Julie Donnelly Bailey wrote. “Of course he also wore a smile from ear to ear. Always full of adventure.”

Bekauri decided to move to Lake Placid in part because of his passion for outdoor sports such as hiking, according to Whitelaw, who had spoken to Bekauri’s father.

Bentz said Bekauri had not been here long. He had only been working for three weeks at the restaurant, although it was not his first job in Lake Placid.

“He was so excited to be here,” Bentz said.

(Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly named the Top of the Park restaurant.)

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