Image: Mohan Seneviratne
Andrew Sturgill  /  MSNBC.com
Mohan Seneviratne in a recent photograph.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 1/9/2007 4:50:02 PM ET 2007-01-09T21:50:02

A former MSNBC.com designer injured when he plunged into the cold Atlantic on New Year’s Day during a “polar bear” seasonal observance has died.

Mohan Seneviratne was among some 200 people who joined members of the Coney Island Polar Bear Club in taking an annual plunge into the 48-degree water to start the new year. He was not a member of the club.

Seneviratne, 32, a journalist who worked for MSNBC.com, and other media companies, suffered severe neck injuries when his head apparently struck a sandbar when he dove into the water. He died Friday at Lutheran Medical Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., the hospital said.

He was born in Syracuse, N.Y., and lived in South Windsor, N.Y., and Avon, Conn., graduating from the Loomis Chaffee School in 1992. He received his B.A. in biology and religion from Brown University, and his master's degree from the Columbia University School of Journalism.

At MSNBC.com, he was briefly the East Coast morning cover designer, and was the designer for several special projects including the the July 4th “Voices” project .

He was also employed by Penguin Putnam Publishing Co., and the Pandiscio Co., a graphic design and marketing team based in Manhattan. Most recently, he was employed at Hearst Corporation as a producer working on the launch of the new digital media program for Esquire Magazine.

‘He truly cared about you’
“I came from a small town in Kentucky and I was a little overwhelmed to say the least when I came up here,” said Andrew Sturgill, a friend who worked with Seneviratne at MSNBC.com.

“He just befriended me and took me under his wing. He was one of the most truly genuine people that I have ever met,” Sturgill told AM New York. “You know from the moment you met him that he truly cared about you.”

Besides his parents of Avon, he is survived by his sister, Samantha Seneviratne of Brooklyn; his grandmothers, aunts, uncles and cousins in Sri Lanka, England and Switzerland.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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