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North Carolina swimmer confirmed dead after going missing in Hudson River during multi-day race


Dr. Charles Van Der Horst (Facebook)

A North Carolina man who went missing in the Hudson River near the end of a 120-mile swimming race has been confirmed presumed dead by family members.

Charles Van Der Horst, 67, was participating in the 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim Friday when he went under around 3:10 p.m. near the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge during the second-to-last stage of the multi-day race.

“Charlie exemplified living life to its fullest,” his family said in a statement shared on Facebook Saturday afternoon. "He put all of his passion and zest into everything he did, from his love of his family, friends and community, to his swimming to his work on social justice and in the medical field.”

Van Der Horst was an emeritus professor of medicine and infectious diseases at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and a global health consultant for EQUIP Health in South Africa, according to his Twitter page.

The race began June 8 at the Rip Van Winkle Bridge about 100 miles north of the George Washington Bridge and proceeded in stages every day. Friday’s stage was 15.7 miles, from the Tappan Zee Bridge to the George Washington Bridge.

The last part of the swim Van Der Horst completed was Tuesday’s leg from Newburgh-Beacon Bridge to Bear Mountain Bridge. He finished the 15.1-mile route in four hours and 46 minutes.

New York Open Water, which organized the race, cancelled the last stage of the swim after Van Der Horst went missing. The race bills itself as the longest marathon swim in the world,

“Our thoughts are first and foremost with the Van Der Horst family and we ask that all respect their wish for privacy as they mourn this tragic loss,” the organization said in a statement.