University of Arizona student dies in fall from tower on dorm roof

2014-04-05T00:05:00Z University of Arizona student dies in fall from tower on dorm roofArizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
April 05, 2014 12:05 am  • 

A 19-year-old freshman at the University of Arizona died early Friday when he fell while climbing a metal tower on the roof of a campus dorm.

The death is being investigated as an accidental fall, according to UA police.

Michael Evan Anderson of Mission Viejo, Calif., and another student were climbing the metal tower atop the three-story Colonia de la Paz residence hall, 602 N. Highland Ave., just before 4 a.m. when Anderson fell, said Sgt. Filbert Barrera, a spokesman for the University of Arizona Police Department.

The ventilation tower, about 20 feet tall, is like a vertical swamp cooler in which air is cooled and drops through a shaft into the building, Barrera said.

The other student was not injured. He called 911 after Anderson fell and was questioned by police. Anderson and the other student live in La Paz, Barrera said.

Tucson Fire Department personnel attempted CPR, but Anderson was pronounced dead at the scene, Barrera said. He had climbed about halfway up the tower when he fell to the dorm’s roof, he said.

Photographs taken by a bystander show firefighters performing CPR on Anderson as they brought him down using a high-rise ladder truck.

An autopsy will determine if drugs or alcohol were factors in the incident, Barrera said.

The roof of the dorm, secured by a padlocked entrance, was not easily accessible, Barrera said.

The students seem to have gained access through a series of feats that would have required substantial upper-body strength .

“Somebody definitely gave a lot of thought to how they were going to get up there,” he said.

The other student told authorities they accessed the roof by climbing an exterior wall, according to a news release from the UAPD. That student’s name was not released.

According to the UA online directory, Anderson was a student in the Eller College of Management. He was also listed in a directory as a member of the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity.

A young man at the fraternity house declined to comment Friday evening, referring questions to the chapter president.

The UA’s Residence Life office sent a email notice to students notifying them of the death. The message encouraged students to inform their parents about the incident and said counseling would be available to any student needing it.

Anderson was a 2013 graduate of Santa Margarita Catholic High School in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., which is southeast of Los Angeles in Orange County.

“Prayers go out to the family of Mike Anderson (class of) ’13. Never forget how fragile life is and how quickly it can be taken,” read a tweet from the school’s track team. The tweet showed a photograph of Anderson pole-vaulting for the team.

A notice on the high school’s website informed students and staff of Anderson’s death.

“We ask that you keep his family and friends in your prayers so that our Lord will comfort them and give them strength to get through this tragedy,” the statement said.

The school said campus ministry workers and counselors will be available and that a memorial remembrance would be set up in the school’s chapel for anyone wanting to leave a message for Anderson’s family.

The UAPD’s investigation is ongoing.

Reporters Carol Ann Alaimo, Carmen Duarte and Kimberly Matas contributed to this story.

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