Julie Carr Smyth
COLUMBUS: A student who jumped into a lake at Ohio State University as part of an annual event probably died from a broken neck, the county coroner said Thursday.
Franklin County Coroner Anahi Ortiz said preliminary autopsy results show that junior Austin Singletary, 22, of Dayton, fractured his C-5 vertebra, in the neck area, during the plunge into Mirror Lake on Wednesday. He was participating in a student-led lake jump that’s become a tradition to mark the Ohio State-Michigan football rivalry.
Ortiz said her office will conduct additional testing, including a toxicology screening, to make a final determination of what caused Singletary’s death. The process should take six or seven weeks, she said.
Singletary was pulled from the lake around 12:30 a.m. Wednesday, officials said. The lake jump was halted shortly after Singletary was taken to Wexner Medical Center, located on campus, where he died hours later. Ortiz said the neck fracture likely caused his death.
Ohio State announced after the death that it would move to end the annual lake jump, which had raised safety concerns for the school. President Michael Drake said the university is heartbroken over the death.
University spokesman Chris Davey said the jump — which involved an estimated 10,000 students throughout the evening — was not sanctioned by the university. Officials had attempted to increase safety by putting up temporary fencing and requiring participants to obtain wristbands.
It has been a tradition since roughly the 1990s for throngs of students to leap into the campus lake ahead of Michigan weekend, when the Buckeyes play their biggest rival. The lake lies just off Ohio State’s central green, known as the Oval.