Man Disappears, Found Dead in Reservoir

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On March 19, 2024, a body was found in the Highland Park Reservoir in the western part of New York State. The reservoir is a vital source of drinking water for residents of Rochester, New York.

The deceased, identified as 29-year-old Abdullahi Muya, was discovered during a routine inspection by the Water Bureau personnel of the city. This unsettling discovery resulted in an immediate decision to drain the reservoir, a move that led to the temporary closure of city schools and the enforcement of a boil water directive.

Rochester Mayor Malik Evans, in a press briefing, stated that Muya had entered the reservoir area on February 24. Surveillance footage showed him descending into the water around 6:30 a.m. This incident occurred a few days after Muya was reported missing on February 18.

Despite the presence of a robust security system, including high fences with spikes and heat and motion sensors, Muya managed to remain undetected for almost a month. This prompted Mayor Evans to question the effectiveness of the daily inspections and persistent water quality monitoring in place at the reservoir.

The Mayor hypothesized that the vast size and depth of the reservoir, which holds roughly 26 million gallons of water, might have helped conceal Muya’s body. His body was found deep underwater near the inlet structure, a location that is typically obscured by shadows and refracted light.

Despite the prolonged exposure of Muya’s body to the water, Rochester’s water quality remained unaffected. The city lifted the boil water advisory on Thursday, confirming that water tests taken over the past months showed no signs of contamination. The process of draining and cleaning the reservoir is estimated to take about eight weeks.

The ongoing investigation into Muya’s demise has so far found no evidence of foul play. Mayor Evans extended his condolences to Muya’s family and assured residents that the city is committed to improving its security measures to protect its water supply. The investigation continues to determine why Muya ventured into the reservoir’s premises.

Muya had recently moved into a new home in the city. His sudden disappearance and lack of communication with his family raised concerns about his access to necessary medication for a medical condition that has not been specified. Muya’s state ID was found in a local market parking lot on February 14, which further heightened his family’s anxiety. His brother, Mahamud Muya, previously told a media outlet, “He is reliant on his medication daily. It aids his sleep and mental clarity. Missing it for a few days makes him extremely paranoid.”

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