Body of man pulled from Tempe Town Lake identified

Posted: Updated:
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Detectives have determined that a young man whose body was found in Tempe Town Lake Tuesday morning, drowned.

Police received a call about a body in the water between the railroad bridge and the Mill Avenue Bridge at about 5:30 a.m.

"By the time we got out here, the body had actually floated to the south bank of the lake here and was just underneath the railroad tracks," Tempe Police Sgt. Mike Pooley said.

Tempe Police Department spokeswoman Molly Enright said police quickly retrieved the body, later identified as 21-year-old Tempe resident Gerrick Begay.  Investigators are not sure how Begay wound up in the lake.

"At this time, the death does not appear to be suspicious, but detectives are continuing to investigate the circumstances of the death," Enright said in an email to media outlets.

Based on that, police are not searching for anybody in connection with the man's death. They are, however, trying to retrace the man's steps as they try to piece together what happened to him.

"Right now it doesn't appear there are any signs of foul play. We're not sure how he got in there," Pooley said.

Detectives say the man was fully clothed and had a wallet and identification on him.

Based on his ID, investigators believe the man recently was a college student, but is not currently enrolled.

This is second drowning at Tempe Town Lake this year. In April, Joseph O'Connor, a city worker, suffered a medical episode that caused him to fall out of his boat.

In December, the body of an Arizona State University student was found in the lake, about 300 feet from the shore. Jack Culolias, 19, had been missing for several days. He was last seen at a fraternity event at a bar at Tempe Marketplace. Detectives believe Culolias was drunk when he somehow went into the water.

Going back to October, Christopher Gonzales, 34, drowned while swimming in the Tempe Town Lake. A witness and a Tempe police officer dove in to help him but were unable to get to him before he went under. Investigators believe Gonzales was drunk and labeled the incident an accidental drowning.