Funeral scheduled for retired UNC professor who died in N.Y. swimming race

North Carolina
Dr. Charles van der Horst UNC

Funeral services have been scheduled in Durham for a retired UNC professor who died last Friday while swimming in a 120-mile marathon swimming race in New York.

According to the obituary website Legacy.com, the funeral for Dr. Charlie van der Horst, a retired professor in the UNC Department of Medicine at UNC-Chapel Hill, will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, June 18, at Beth El Synagogue, located at 1004 Watts Street in Durham, NC.

The obituary says a casket containing meaningful reminders from Charlie’s life will be buried at the Durham Hebrew Cemetery after the funeral service. 

The UNC School of Medicine posted a statement about Horst on its Facebook page: “He will be dearly missed and always remembered by all of us at the UNC School of Medicine as a compassionate doctor, dedicated teacher, beloved mentor, and passionate advocate.”

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Organizers of a marathon swimming race in New York have confirmed a retired UNC professor died while participating in the event on Friday.

Dr. Charles van der Horst, a retired UNC School of Medicine professor who lived in Chapel Hill, was swimming in the 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim, a week-long, 120-mile swim that organizers say is the longest swimming marathon in the world.

A kayaker acts as a spotter for the competitors, who swim about 19 miles a day. The Coast Guard says a spotter became concerned after Vanderhorst did not resurface after going underwater.

Organizers with the New York Open Water group say Dr. van der Horst went missing Friday on Stage 6 of the marathon, which spanned from the Mario Cuomo Bridge to the George Washington Bridge.

At one point, search efforts were underway involving the New York City Police Department.

Organizers say all of the proper safety protocols were followed during the race and in the search for Dr. van der Horst.

Stage 7 swim scheduled for Saturday was canceled.

New York Open Water released a statement from Dr. van der Horst’s family:

“Charlie exemplified living life to its fullest. He put all of his passion and zest into everything he did, from his love of his family, friends, and community, to his swimming to his work on social justice and in the medical field. At this time we ask that you respect our wishes for privacy as we mourn this tragic loss.”

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There’s still no sign of a marathon swimmer who went missing in the Hudson River during Friday’s leg of a week-long race.

The NYPD says divers went back into the Hudson at 10 a.m. Saturday to resume the search.

CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas reports the swimmer has been identified as 67-year-old Charles Vanderhorst, of North Carolina.

Search and rescue crews launched into the river around 3 p.m. Friday. Chopper 2 was there as they focused their efforts in the area near the Manhattan side of the George Washington Bridge.

The coast guard says Vanderhorst was part of what’s known as the 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim. Organizers say it’s the longest marathon swim in the world.

A kayaker acts as a spotter for the competitors, who swim about 19 miles a day. The coast guard says a spotter became concerned after Vanderhorst did not resurface after going underwater.

The week-long swimming competition began last Saturday at the Rip Van Winkle Bridge in Catskill, New York.

Friday’s leg spanned from the Mario Cuomo Bridge to the George Washington Bridge.

The final stretch that ended at the Verrazzano was supposed to take place Saturday, but organizers have called it off.

Despite hours of navigating the cold waters of the Hudson, there is still no sign of Vanderhorst.

Organizers say all of the safety protocols were followed.

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