The mother of a missing University of Minnesota student confirmed Friday that a body pulled Thursday from the Mississippi River near the Lake Street-Marshall Avenue Bridge is that of her son.

Christopher Stanley, 22, fell into the water on April 25 after he and a roommate climbed a fence to sit along the river. The roommate told park police that a large wave swept the two men into the river and over St. Anthony Falls. He said he couldn’t find Stanley when he got out of the water.

Stanley’s mother, Melissa Melnick of Minneapolis, said one of the first things that comes to mind when she thinks of her son is the word “avid,” due to his wide range of interests and hobbies.

Melnick described her son as witty and funny. He enjoyed playing music, dancing and writing poetry and was a dedicated biker, even in winter. He had plans to bike the entire length of the Mississippi this summer.

“He embraced life with passion full force, and he has lived his life to the best of his abilities each and every day,” she said.

Stanley was enrolled in the University of Minnesota’s College of Biological Sciences. He was a neurobiology major with minors in Spanish and sustainability studies.

He also had a passion for social justice and was interested in mindfulness and meditation, Melnick said. Family members and friends also will remember him for his strong faith, she said.

“I told him, ‘You’re going to be a preacher,’ ” she said. “In a lot of ways, he’d already become a preacher.”

Melnick said she hopes to put together a bike ride next summer in memory of Stanley and to start a foundation that supports sustainability efforts with some of Stanley’s memorial money.

A memorial service will be held at 4 p.m. May 12 at Central Lutheran Church in downtown Minneapolis. Visitation will begin at the church at 3 p.m.


Haley Hansen is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.