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Austin police have identified a man found dead Saturday morning in a downtown creek as 21-year-old Cole Christianson of Anchorage, Alaska.

Austin Police Department spokesperson Jennifer Hebert said Christianson’s death has been ruled “not suspicious” by APD, and the department will not conduct any further investigation. Sarah Scott, chief administrative officer for the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office, said Christianson’s cause of death is still unknown, and her office is awaiting the results of toxicology testing on his body, which could take six to eight weeks.

Scott said Christianson’s body was found Saturday morning at 11:10 a.m. by an employee of Austin Music Hall. Scott said Christianson was lying in Shoal Creek behind Austin Music Hall, located at 208 Nueces Street. Christianson was a former student of the University of Alaska Anchorage, officials said.

UT economics senior Dennis Beaudo, a friend of Christianson’s who attended Dimond High School with him in Anchorage, said Christianson was a big hockey fan and was funny, popular and kind.

“He made a lot of people laugh. He had a really big smile,” Beaudo said. “He treated everybody really well and was kind to everybody that he knew.”

Printed on Tuesday, October 16, 2012 as: Police identify body found in Shoal Creek

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center announced Monday that a 300-pound, 2-year-old female Kodiak brown bear escaped six days ago from its enclosure near Portage. The bear had been destined for a zoo in Sweden in early summer.

The center is in a rural area at the southernmost end of Anchorage, about 40 miles from downtown. The center is near wild areas of the Chugach National Forest and the bear was last seen Tuesday night in mountains between the Portage and Placer valleys, the center said.

“We had our electric fence turned off for maintenance and during that time, something spooked Shaguyik,” said executive director Mike Miller. “Unfortunately, this year’s heavy snow load required us to fix our electric fence and that’s when the incident occurred.”

She carries a microchip but is not wearing a collar and has no identifying tags. The nonprofit center is the custodian of the bear under a permit but it remains the possession of the state, Tyler said.

Last week, 25 UT students were hosted by local families for two nights at the halfway point of their bicycling journey from Austin to Anchorage, Ala. “LIVESTRONG TEXAS 4000, fighting cancer every mile” is painted on their chase van, which told their story to our community in South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

We fed and housed the students, took them out on the lake on our boats and welcomed them as our own family. Many are seeing California for the first time and are in awe of our dry sunshine, snow-capped mountains and our deep blue lake. But what we received in return from this group of Texans was far greater. Their kindness, empathy, appreciation, etiquette, love and generosity of heart was immense.

Thank you to the University of Texas for sharing your exemplary students and giving our alpine town the opportunity to participate in this incredibly worthwhile cause as well as enjoying an experience these students and the host families will never forget.

Carl Fair
South Lake Tahoe, Calif.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Anchorage police say a city van used to pick up drunken people was taken on a joyride by a man suspected of drunken driving.

The Anchorage Daily News reports that 35-year-old Donny H. Weston was arrested late Thursday after police say he got into a Community Service Patrol van parked with the keys in the engine. Police say social workers were attending inebriated people when Weston got into the van.

Police say Weston drove the van for significant distance, including driving against traffic, and he eventually crashed the van into a bus and ditched it.

Police say the inebriated men in the back of the van didn’t notice the joyride.

— Compiled from Associated Press reports

News Briefly

A group of more than 50 students who bike 4,600 miles from Austin to Anchorage, Alaska, every summer broke a record for the Livestrong Young Adult Alliance’s Break Cancer initiative, said advertising senior Adam Laurenzo, copresident of Texas 4000.

More than 50 members punched balloons, which symbolized cancer, in the Chemical and Petroleum Engineering Building on Dean Keeton Street.

Laurenzo said Monday’s event was not the group’s first time participating in the initiative.

“Our last one was ‘Longest Congo Line of Mustache-Wearing People,’” he said. “People come up with crazy stuff.”

The trek from Austin to Anchorage is the world’s longest annual charity bicycle ride, consisting only of UT students. Since the group’s first ride in 2004, it has raised almost $3 million to support cancer research, he said.

“The Beat Cancer initiative creates awareness through breaking records,“ he said. “Hopefully this will help draw the public eye and get us more support.”