Tennessee Professor Swept Away By Wave During Brazil Study-Abroad Trip Has Died

COLUMBIA, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee community college professor who was swept away by an ocean wave during a study-abroad trip in Brazil has died, his school said Monday.

Clifford Gordon, associate professor of art, was walking with three students along an oceanside road in Paraty, Brazil, when they stopped to take pictures and a wave struck them, according to Columbia State Community College. The three students were not seriously injured, but Gordon was swept away and Brazilian authorities searched for him, the school said.

Columbia State received confirmation on Monday morning that Gordon's body was found and positively identified.

“We were heartbroken to hear of this tragic accident,” Janet F. Smith, Columbia State's president, said in a statement on the school's website. “We are thankful that no students were seriously injured. Our college family mourns the loss of Clifford, who was a talented artist and greatly loved by his students."

The school said the study abroad program in Brazil included 12 students from four community colleges across Tennessee.

The students were scheduled to board flights Monday and arrive back in Tennessee on Tuesday, Rick Locker, a spokesperson for the College System of Tennessee, said. They will be offered counseling.

Two of the students who were with Gordon when he was swept away are from Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, while the other attends Walters State Community College in Morristown.

Gordon started working for Columbia State in 2008 as an adjunct professor and then moved to a full-time position in 2013. He also was known for works of collage and painting, which were on display at various exhibitions in the state.

Gordon had traveled to Brazil during many summers, even teaching himself to speak Portuguese, the school said. He had a Bachelor of Science degree in art from Tennessee State University and a Master of Fine Arts degree in studio art from the Memphis College of Art.

Paraty is located about 150 miles (241 kilometers) west of the city of Rio de Janeiro.