A 19-year-old woman died early Sunday after accidentally falling out of a sixth-story window of a University of Minnesota residence hall Saturday afternoon.
The victim, Stephanie Ann Lehr, of Minneapolis, died of multiple blunt-force injuries, according to a Hennepin County medical examiner’s office news release. She fell into a courtyard on the northwest side of Yudof Hall before 5 p.m. Saturday, and died at 2 a.m. Sunday at Hennepin County Medical Center.
Deputy Chief Chuck Miner said that the screen to the window had been removed, and Lehr was trying to reach a nearby gravel rooftop about three feet away. He said he didn’t know whether she fell going to the roof or returning to the room. Miner couldn’t recall any similar accidental deaths at the university. He also said he didn’t believe police had received calls about people going onto the roof, which houses mechanical equipment.
Lehr was not a university student, and her friend was the only other person in the room, said Miner. According to the medical examiner’s report, Lehr lived in the 600 block of Quincy Street NE. Her family declined to comment on the accident.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family and friends,” read a university statement. “We hope students will use this as a reminder to be protective and caring of their friends and classmates.”
Lehr’s friend was moved to another residence-hall room, said Miner. Police interviewed another woman who witnessed the accident. The university is providing counseling for students if they need it.
At 4:38 p.m. Saturday, police received a 911 call that a woman had fallen out of a window and onto a courtyard on the university’s East Bank. The victim was conscious when she was taken to the HCMC. The Hennepin County crime lab was at the scene, but only for routine assistance, university spokesman Chuck Tombarge said.
The screen that had been removed was approximately three feet high and four feet wide, said Tim Busse, communications director for University Services. There wasn’t a ledge outside the window, he said. The roof was several feet lower than the window and surrounded by a ledge, he said.
“The roof was big enough for a person to be on,” said Busse, adding that the roof is accessible by a door on the sixth floor, which police used.
Alcohol was found in the room, but Miner said he didn’t know whether Lehr had consumed any of it. Police will continue to investigate, which will include obtaining autopsy results from the medical examiner.
Miner emphasized that the screens weren’t made to be removed. “We take safety very seriously for our students and those who come to visit our campus,” he said. “This wasn’t a safe thing to do.”