India has called off the search for the fiance of the daughter of Rep. Merrill Cook, R-Utah. He was swept away on June 22 by the rushing Ganges River near its remote headwaters in the foothills of the Himalaya Mountains.
"At this point, they are assuming he drowned in the river when he fell in," Marianne Funk, Cook's press secretary, said of Peter Zachariadas of Chevy Chase, Md.She said the Indian government had 80 to 90 soldiers - including divers and helicopters - at one point helping in the search.
"They did not recover his body," Funk said. "His father went over there and concluded that the Indian government has been wonderful and has truly done everything possible."
Funk said the government still has "a few remaining searchers checking villages along the river" in case he was able to make it out of the river alive but injured.
Zachariadas was engaged to Cook's daughter, Barbara. They met at St. John's College in Santa Fe, N.M.
Cook said earlier that Zachariadas was in India for some postgraduate studies of Indian literature, culture and philosophy. He had aimed to join the faculty of St. John's afterward.
Cook said Zachariadas and a colleague were hiking together toward the headwaters of the Ganges in the foothills of the Himalayas when Zachariadas fell into its rushing waters.
He was swept several hundred yards downstream before his companion lost sight of him. Cook said it took the companion several hours to hike to the nearest village in the remote area to report the accident and notify Zachariadas' parents in Maryland.
Cook also said earlier, "Peter is one of the smartest, most decent guys I know," and said both his family and the Zachariadas family were devastated by the tragedy.
The Ganges is the same river that is sacred to Hindus, who make pilgrimages to it to wash away their sins. The river is 1,560 miles long, flowing from the Himalayas to the Bay of Bengal.