Update: This story was updated Wednesday, Feb. 10, at 7:00 a.m. to reflect new information.
A body found in Newport Beach has been identified as missing CSUF student Praveen Galla, according to the Orange County Coroner’s press release.
Galla’s body was found in water 1,000 feet from the Newport Beach pier by lifeguards at approximately 11:30 a.m. Tuesday. The cause of death has not been determined as of this writing.
Galla, an international student from India, had been missing since Monday, Feb. 1. University Police actively searched for him.
Galla, 23, was last seen by his friends and roommates at his Fullerton apartment around 4:50 p.m. the day he disappeared.
Galla called his friend and former roommate Vinod Alukuru at approximately 2:30 p.m. Monday and asked for a ride to campus because he had an appointment with CSUF computer science professor Bin Cong, Ph.D., at 7 p.m. Galla wanted to arrive early in hopes of seeing another professor with whom he did not have an appointment scheduled, Alukuru said.
His roommate, Brizwesh Doddapaneni, called an Uber for Galla. The Uber driver arrived at their Fullerton apartment at 5:01 p.m. and dropped Galla off at West Campus Drive at 5:06 p.m.
Galla’s roommates filed a missing persons report Tuesday, Feb. 2, University Police Capt. Scot Willey said.
Campus police put out a Be On The Lookout report, which was sent out to various government agencies throughout the Orange, Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties, Willey said.
In addition to the report, campus police also registered Galla to the Missing and Unidentified Persons Unit, a nationwide database that contains dental records, photographs and physical characteristics of missing and unidentified persons.
The Uber driver who dropped Galla off is confirmed to have been at West Campus Drive. Security footage shows the car driving past the alleged spot of Galla’s drop-off, but it does not show Galla exiting the vehicle, Willey said.
There is also no footage of Galla walking through campus to the Computer Science Building, where he was supposed to have met with Cong, Willey said.
According to University Police, Galla did not leave the country and Doddapaneni confirmed that Galla did not have his passport with him.
“We worked with the bank as well, but there was no activity on his bank cards or anything like that since that night he went missing,” Willey said.
The last location ping Galla’s phone gave was at an apartment complex in Newport Beach in the area of Superior Avenue and Pacific Coast Highway around 7 p.m. on Feb. 1, Willey said. That does not necessarily mean that Galla was in Newport Beach. There is the possibility that he may have sold his phone or had it stolen, Willey said.
“Just because his phone showed up in Newport Beach doesn’t mean he’s not here in Fullerton,” Willey said at the time.
After the missing persons report was filed, Newport Beach Police visited the apartment building to do a welfare check and knock on doors. No one had seen Galla, Willey said.
Orange County Sheriff’s Department loaned University Police a helicopter in order to search the surrounding open fields near Galla’s last ping, Willey said. The chopper searched an approximate 2-square mile area on Superior Avenue above Pacific Coast Highway for approximately 45 minutes and found no signs of Galla, he said.
Alukuru, who normally saw Galla every day for about four to five hours, said Galla expressed to him that he was dissatisfied with his academic career and had for the last month displayed a lot of sadness.
“He said, ‘I don’t want this kind of life. I want to be alone, far from everyone,’” Alukur said. “I hope he is somewhere safe, just living far from everyone.”
As of right now campus police are “lead-less,” Willey said.
“He’s not in trouble … we just want to see him back well,” Willey said.
Anyone with any information on Galla’s whereabouts is encouraged to contact University Police at 657-278-2515.