Tragedy on West Campus

Student dies after fall through library skylight, marking the second falling death this semester

The Education Library in Duncan McArthur Hall was evacuated following the incident at approximately 7:30 p.m. last night.
The Education Library in Duncan McArthur Hall was evacuated following the incident at approximately 7:30 p.m. last night.
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Two students fell through a skylight in the Education Library, located in Duncan McArthur Hall at Union St. and Sir John A. MacDonald Blvd.
Two students fell through a skylight in the Education Library, located in Duncan McArthur Hall at Union St. and Sir John A. MacDonald Blvd.
Credit: 
Graphic by Tyler Ball
The Education Library was closed Friday Dec. 3 after the incident.
The Education Library was closed Friday Dec. 3 after the incident.
Photo: 

Last night at approximately 7:30 p.m., first-year students Habib Khan and Stephen Nagy fell three stories through a skylight in Duncan McArthur Hall. Both students were taken to hospital where Khan, ArtSci ’14, was pronounced dead. Nagy, Sci ’14, is in stable condition.

David Patterson, head of Campus Security, confirmed that there were people inside the library when the students fell but said the area was cleared by the time emergency services responded.

Patterson said security has received reports of unauthorized individuals on the roof of Duncan McArthur Hall in the past, but no one was ever caught.

“It’s a prohibited area,” he said. “It’s dangerous and only authorized staff should be on the roof.”

Mike Menor, Kingston Police media relations officer, said police are still investigating what caused the two students to fall from the roof of the three-storey building.

“They’re just trying to piece it all together,” he said.

The Kingston Coroner’s office is also conducting an investigation into last night’s death, but regional supervising coroner Roger Skinner said he is bound by the Coroner’s Act of Ontario and is unable to release any information publicly.

Associate Vice-Principal and Dean of Student Affairs John Pierce said he’s in disbelief over the incident.

“Shock and total disbelief I think were the two main responses and … the wonder ‘How could this happen?’ … [The administration is] pretty overwhelmed I think,” he said. “Our hearts and thoughts go out the family of the student who passed away and obviously we continue to worry and have concern for the student still in hospital.”

This is the second time this semester that a student death has resulted from a fall.

“No one can remember a set of accidents like this so close to one another,” he said. “I’ve talked to colleagues … we’re not finding a precedent for this. That’s part of my disbelief. [It’s] highly unusual.”

He said he has no information on whether alcohol was involved in the incident.

On Sept. 13, Cameron Bruce, Sci ’14, died as a result from a fall from his sixth floor residence room window.

Pierce said the University conducted an internal security review after the death of Bruce and will be conducting another to find out how this accident occurred.

“We do our own internal review of this as we did with Cameron Bruce to look at the immediate environment,” he said.

“That investigation on that matter is still ongoing with the police and coroner’s office. We don’t have final recommendations from them,” he said. “We did check all the windows and everything seemed to be secure so we did what was within our power and our ability to do.”

Pierce said this security review will be similar to the one that began in September.

“Each situation has its unique elements in terms of when it occurs, what the situation was. So we always have to take that into account, but we have developed a protocol over a number of years that gives us a general set of guidelines,” he said.

“Similar to the last incident, what will occur is that the police will take the main lead in investigating the actual incident itself, what occurred there,” he said. “This is really what we want to work with the police on … be open to them giving us guidance on whether there were security issues, whether there weren’t.”

Pierce said that in addition to investigating last night’s incident, the University is focusing on outreach.

“What we’re doing is already in place as we started to reach out to the families, then moving to the counsellors,” Pierce said, adding that reaching out to students is now the number one priority.

“[Counsellors have] already been dispersed to talk to students in the residence and those who were immediately affected,” he said. “What’s additionally happening is that I and some others have spoken to the faculties … to indicate that students may be seeking accommodation and instructors should obviously give accommodation where required,” he said.

Pierce said because exams are starting next week, students are in need of support now more than ever.

“This is the most stressful time of the year where we’ve got final exams just about to begin,” he said My main message actually for everyone is really to urge them to seek counselling if they feel any effect or any impact because of this event. That’s critical right now.”

Students can contact Health, Counselling and Disability Services at 613-533-6000 ext. 78264 or come to the LaSalle Building at 146 Stuart Street. After hours, students can call Campus Security 24/7 at 613-533-6080.

The Peer Support Centre is also available for students seeking a safe and confidential listening space, currently operating out of room 215 in the John Deutsch University Centre. You can book an appointment at peersupport@ams.queensu.ca or visit the office in the JDUC for a drop-in between the hours of 3pm to 1am daily.

Students may also call Telephone Aid Line Kingston at 613-544-1771 between the hours of 7pm and 3am every night. Telephone Aid Line Kingston is a crisis, distress, befriending and information phone line.

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