Junior missing in South Africa presumed drowned

Media Credit: Nicholas Upton was a member of the Kappa Alpha fraternity and the men's rowing team. Photo courtesy The George Washington University.

Nicholas Upton was a member of the Kappa Alpha fraternity and the men's rowing team. Photo courtesy The George Washington University.
Nicholas Upton was a member of the Kappa Alpha fraternity and the men’s rowing team. Photo courtesy The George Washington University.

Updated: Sept. 2, 2015 at 3:26 p.m.

The junior missing off the coast of South Africa is presumed drowned, his parents confirmed Tuesday.

Local officials called off the search for 19-year-old Nicholas Upton, his parents said. Upton was last seen swimming in the East Cape Province on Sunday, Aug. 30 at about 10:30 p.m. local time. Weather conditions had “hampered” the original search, according to an Aug. 31 release from the National Sea Rescue Institute.

His father, Jim Upton, said he and Nicholas Upton’s mother had been told Tuesday morning that there was a “zero percent chance” that his son was still alive and a 5 percent chance that they would be able to recover the body.

Margaret Mirowski, Nicholas Upton’s mother, said she will travel to South Africa on Wednesday to hire a private search. She said she still has hope her son can be found alive.

Mirowski said that local officials weren’t doing enough to search for her son and said U.S. officials should “make a wave” to help her get the resources needed to find him. She said officials should not have called off the search.

“I don’t think that’s fair, I don’t think anyone would believe that’s fair,” Mirowski said. “We’re going out there and we’re finding Nicholas.”

A kickstarter campaign started by a family friend has brought in more than $55,000, which will be used to conduct a private search.

Nicholas Upton is from Redding, Conn. He is a member of the Kappa Alpha fraternity and the men’s rowing team. His father said those organizations have been “fantastic” in contacting government officials to raise awareness of his son’s disappearance.

Jim Upton said students visited dozens of Congressional, State Department and military offices Monday asking U.S. officials to encourage South African officials to devote more resources to the search.

“As a direct result of that, the consulate guy that we’re working with was complaining about getting so many calls from congressmen, so they did a tremendous job getting the word out,” Jim Upton said.

Dean of Student Affairs Peter Konwerski said in a statement late Tuesday night that officials are in touch with Nicholas Upton’s family and “is offering support to those students affected by this devastating news.”

“Our hearts go out to them and others who knew and loved Nick,” Konwerski said

Members of the community can contact Mental Health Services at 202-994-5300.

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