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Man Found Dead in Public Reservoir

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On March 19, 2024, a body was found at the Highland Park Reservoir in western upstate New York. The reservoir, located in Rochester, New York, serves as the city’s drinking water source.

During a routine morning check, the city’s Water Bureau staff found the remains of 29-year-old Abdullahi Muya in the reservoir. This discovery led to the immediate drainage of the reservoir and a boil water notice, resulting in the temporary closure of city schools.

Muya had been missing since February 18 and was discovered after almost a month in the water. “Mr. Muya accessed the enclosed reservoir area early on February 24. Shortly after, around 6:30 a.m., he descended the side of the reservoir into the water and met a tragic end,” stated Rochester Mayor Malik Evans, referring to surveillance footage reviewed during the investigation.

Despite robust perimeter security measures, including tall fences with spikes and heat and motion sensors, Muya evaded detection. This raised questions from Mayor Evans about how Muya went unnoticed for such a prolonged period in a reservoir that’s subject to frequent inspections and continuous water quality monitoring.

The mayor suggested that Muya’s location deep within the reservoir, which holds approximately 26 million gallons of water, and near the inlet structure, an area obscured by shadows and refracted light, might have helped to conceal him.

Despite the extended exposure of the body to the environment, Rochester’s water quality was unaffected, and the boil water advisory was lifted on Thursday. Mayor Evans confirmed that months of consistent water tests revealed no contamination. It is projected that the process of draining and cleaning the reservoir will take up to eight weeks.

Investigation into Muya’s death did not indicate any foul play. Mayor Evans extended his condolences to Muya’s family and pledged to enhance the city’s security measures to safeguard its water supply. The investigation into why Muya entered the reservoir is still underway.

Muya had recently moved into a new home within the city and abruptly stopped communicating with his family, leading to concerns that he might have been without essential medication needed for an undefined health condition. His family had previously found his state ID in a local market parking lot on February 14, and expressed worries about his access to his medication. “He is reliant on his medication daily. It aids his sleep and mental clarity. Missing it for a few days makes him extremely paranoid,” stated his brother, Mahamud Muya.

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