One U of I student dies, second reported missing in Brazil - FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

One U of I student dies, second reported missing in Brazil

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (Sun-Times Media Wire) - One University of Illinois student from Chicago died from an illness Monday and another student is missing in a swimming mishap, both while studying in Brazil.

“We are all saddened by the news of what has happened to two of our students in the past few days,” U. of I. Chancellor Phyllis Wise said in a statement Thursday.

Ashley S. Walls, 29, of Chicago, was a graduate student in education policy studies, and had been in Florianopolis, Brazil, for several weeks on a personal independent research project, university spokeswoman Robin Kaler said.

Walls died Monday of an illness most likely contracted during her travels, Kaler said. University officials could not share specifics because of health privacy laws.

Another U. of I. student, 20-year-old Richard Fu, was reported missing Saturday afternoon as he and two other students swam in the Atlantic Ocean off a beach near the town of Arraial do Cabo, Brazil, Kaler said.

Fu, an undergraduate crop sciences major who grew up in Taiwan, is in Brazil participating in a study abroad program at the University of Vicosa, Kaler said.

The three were swimming on a holiday weekend when the waves pushed them away from shore, Kaler said. The other two people -- one a U. of I. student and the other a Purdue University student -- made it to shore or were rescued, and are not injured.

“Our focus right now is working with our partners and government contacts in Brazil to help their families navigate this difficult time,” Wise said in the statement.

“Both of these students were admired and respected by their peers and by the faculty and staff who knew them here at Illinois. Our collective thoughts are with their families and friends,” Wise said.

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