A retired medical school professor and AIDS researcher who was swimming in a marathon along the Hudson River in New York City was confirmed dead after his disappearance during the race, organizers said.
Dr. Charles van der Horst, 67, was attending the "8 Bridges Race" on Friday around 15h. when he was missing, announced the New York Police Department. Investigators said that a man who was watching the race from a river bank had seen him disappear and had called 911.
Authorities continued to search for van der Horst, but New York Open Water, the organization that runs the race, published on Facebook on Saturday that the doctor was dead.
"He was involved in several stages of the 8 bridges of Hudson River Swim when he was eliminated at the end of step 6." he wrote, adding that he "testified to life to the fullest ".
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"He has put all his passion and zest into everything he's done, that he loves for his family, his friends and his community, going through swimming, his work on social justice and in the medical field, "said the New York Open Water. "At this moment, we ask you to respect our privacy wishes as we mourn this tragic loss."
The "8 Bridge Run" was divided into seven different stages – June 8th to 15th. The final leg of the race, scheduled for Saturday, was canceled after the van der Horst disappeared.
Last year, the doctor published a column in Charlotte-based News and Observer about his previous experiences on the Hudson River.
"Running 15 miles into the Hudson River, under the cliffs of West Point, dominated by an oil tanker with its moving propellers, hump, hump, like a whale in heat, allowed to put into perspective the immensity of nature "he writes.
Van der Horst continued: "When the sea was very high and I had to travel at least a quarter of a mile from the coast, the beach was moving as far as the eye could see when the waves swayed like a piece of sand, I kissed the calm knowing that I could defeat them despite my overriding fears of overwhelming overwhelming power. "
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Aged 67, he was a graduate of the Harvard Medical School and was working as a professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina, according to his LinkedIn profile.
UNC, in a statement to News and Observer, said that van der Horst "was a passionate and dedicated researcher, clinician and colleague over his many years at the UNC".
"He has been recognized as a leader in the research and treatment of HIV / AIDS in North Carolina and around the world," the statement said. "He was an incredible force for good and was guided by his example of dedication to science and service." Our team at the UNC School of Medicine is saddened by this news Our thoughts are with his family . "
Associated Press contributed to this report.