ORU student missing after falling into mountain river

Sunday, June 3rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ An Oral Roberts University student who was translating and guiding ORU missions through his native country is missing after he fell into a mountain river last week and was swept away.

Authorities are still looking for Sagar Aryal, 34, David Wagner of the ORU office of public relations said.

Team members reported that Aryal was trying to cross a mountainous wooden bridge in steady rain on May 25 when he slipped and fell into the river, Wagner said. Team members followed him along the banks for about 30 minutes before losing sight of him floating downstream, apparently conscious.

A helicopter search of the river failed to find him, Wagner said. Aryal had served as an interpreter for ORU's Nepalese missions in the past.

The team left Tulsa for Nepal on May 16 and had intended to stay two months. But members returned to Katmandu, Nepal's capital, and plan to return to Tulsa on Monday.

An ORU official has flown to Nepal to meet with the team and to make travel arrangements for them to return. That country's crown prince reportedly killed eight members of the royal family, including his parents and two siblings, before killing himself on Friday. It was unclear how the group's return to Oklahoma might be affected.

David Dyson, dean of the ORU school of business, said Aryal was a ``delightful person to be with, a blend of benevolence and brilliance.''

He had a 4.0 grade point average for his first year in the master of business administration program, and ``had a vision much greater than his own personal fulfillment ... to help the Nepalese people.''

Dyson said among Aryal's efforts was his work to help his countrymen buy their way out of slavery.

John Thompson, director of the spiritual life department at ORU, which oversees student missions trips, said accidents like this are rare in the program. ORU has been sending teams overseas since the 1970s, and to Nepal since 1993.

The Nepal missions team of undergraduate and graduate business students had two purposes: to research business opportunities for the Nepalese and to conduct ministry outreach to the villages, Thompson said.