Sudden deaths in a college town
Three Indiana University students and at least four others died suddenly and unexpectedly a year ago within an 8-week period. What happened?
Three Indiana University students died suddenly about a year ago.
So did a member of the Indiana University Board of Trustees.
So did two paramedics in the area and a couple of college students who attended other universities nearby.
One of the IU students was Mia Roy, age 20, who was found dead on the floor of her bedroom in an off-campus apartment on Tuesday, September 14, 2021.
She was from Crown Point in northwest Indiana, near Chicago.
News reports of her death like this one stressed that there was “no evidence of foul play or self-harm.”
An autopsy was done, and the cause of death was found to be related to a cold she’d had the week before, Monroe County Coroner Joani Stalcup said.
[Additional: The autopsy was done by a forensic pathologist named Dr. Bamidele Adeagbo at Terre Haute Regional Hospital. The official cause of death was found to be Laryngeopharyngitis — inflammation of the larynx and pharynx.]
Stalcup said that because this was such a rare occurrence — that a healthy young woman should die from such a mild illness — she still had questions, and so had a tissue sample sent to the CDC for testing in the fall of 2021.
She said this week that she hasn’t yet heard anything back from the CDC.
Another female IU student (student-to-be) had died suddenly just a few weeks earlier — though her death occurred out of state.
Devyn Williams, age 18, was on the last day of an end-of-summer vacation out West with her mother on Aug. 19, 2021, visiting Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. The next day, they were to fly to Indianapolis, where Devyn’s father was going to pick her up at the airport and drive her down to Bloomington so she could begin her freshman year at Indiana University.
When reached by phone earlier this year, her mother described what happened on that terrible day, saying Devyn had an asthma attack, and that she had tried to use her nebulizer, but that it didn’t work: She couldn’t get her breath. By the time paramedics arrived at their rental accommodations in the park, it was too late: She couldn’t be revived.
Devyn had been vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine in April, said her mother, Angela Lacy.
When asked whether Devyn’s death could have been related to the vaccine, she said she could see why some people might ask this, but that she just didn’t know.
An autopsy was done, said Lacy, and the cause of death was found to be related to the asthma attack.
Devyn’s mother blames herself in part for her daughter’s death as she’d taken her on this trip to a higher elevation, with less oxygen. But she says Devyn’s asthma had never been diagnosed as particularly severe — that it didn’t have any special “rating.”
You can read the obituary for Devyn Williams here.
An account of the death of the THIRD IU student, doctoral candidate Melissa Arnold, can be read here.
In August of 2021, two paramedics in the Bloomington area died suddenly on the job — both while in the company of other first responders who rendered immediate assistance.
The first was Brandon Staley, age 46, who was stricken with intense chest pains on Aug. 8 while he was on duty as an EMT in Owen County, about 20 miles from Bloomington. He was riding in the back of an ambulance with another paramedic treating two children who had just been injured in a car accident north of Gosport when he was gripped by the chest pain, lost consciousness and died.
The second was Kyle Martincic, age 34, of Ellettsville, the small town just west of Bloomington. He worked as an EMT and a firefighter, and was at the fire station doing physical fitness training on Aug. 23 when he suffered a “sudden cardiac emergency.”
Despite being surrounded by first responders (his fellow firefighters) who provided immediate assistance, he could not be saved.
Stalcup says that Martincic, whom she knew, had “chronic medical issues” and that he died from a “ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm.”
The aorta is the main artery that carries blood from the heart to the abdomen, as seen on this illustration from the website of the Mayo Clinic, below:
[Stalcup said that Martincic worked part-time as an EMT for IU Health, the largest healthcare system in the state of Indiana, which mandated the Covid-19 vaccine for all employees, including ambulance corps. Employees were to be suspended if they had not been fully vaccinated by Sept. 1, 2021. On Sept. 2, it was reported that 97 percent of IU Health employees had complied with the vaccine mandate.]
On July 31, 2021, the IU community and the city of Bloomington were shocked by the sudden death of an energetic member of the IU Board of Trustees — Melanie Walker, age 62.
Walker was the president of TASUS Corp, a subsidiary of a Japanese manufacturing company with more than 600 employees in the United States.
When at the age of 34 she was appointed president of TASUS, she was thought to be the first female president of a Japanese-owned manufacturing company in the United States.
At the time of her sudden death, she was an active member of the boards of the Indiana Economic Development Corp., the IU Credit Union, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and Susie's Place Child Advocacy Center; and president of the board of the Japan-America Society of Indiana, president of the American Heart Association executive leadership team and an Indiana delegate to the White House Conference on Small Business.
Just a few years before, in 2017, she had adopted a teenaged girl named Stormy, who had spent most of her life in foster care.
Walker had been appointed to the IU Board of Trustees in 2016 by then-governor Mike Pence.
No cause of death was reported either by Indiana University or the media.
Her obituary noted only that her death was unexpected.
An acquaintance said Walker had cardiac issues, though this could not be confirmed.
In addition to the three IU students who died in August and September of 2021, there were two other sudden deaths of IU students months before.
Third-year IU law school student David Gray died in mid-December of 2020 shortly after getting the Covid-19 vaccine, a friend of his told Crossroads Report.
“He was flying back on a plane from Mexico, and was talking to flight attendant and he just ‘nodded off,’” the friend said in an email. “She thought he went to sleep. He had massive heart attack."
“They are not 100% sure from vaccine, but he did have it,” he added.
The friend said, however, that he did not know where or when Gray got the vaccine. The first vaccines were not administered in Indiana until mid-December.
The IU Maurer School of Law announced Gray’s death in a Facebook post, saying they were “shocked by his sudden and untimely death.”
Gray was from New York, and was described by his friend as a “brilliant and handsome” Jewish man in his 30s.
On April 2, 2021 a 20-year-old IU student named Jacob Schleinz was talking to two girls on the balcony of a fourth-story apartment in the early morning hours when, bizarrely, they said he just stopped talking and fell over the balcony railing.
Schleinz was a student in the IU Kelley School of Business and had a summer job lined up at United Health in Indianapolis.
Several major healthcare organizations in Indiana began mandating the vaccine for employees and interns in the summer of 2021. It’s not known whether Schleinz would have been required to get a vaccine in order to begin working at United Health.
People magazine wrote about his tragic death here.
Another sudden death of a college student in the area was reported in the media in September.
A Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology student named Erin Canning was reported to have died “as a result of injuries sustained in an accident.” No other explanation was provided.
Canning was a member of the Rose-Hulman women’s soccer team. She was from Pittsburgh.
And ANOTHER student from a different nearby school, Indiana State University, died around the same time. Dylan McConkey, a computer science major, was found dead by his roommates on Aug. 22, 2021, as reported in this news story here.
Indiana University announced on May 21, 2021 that it was imposing a vaccine mandate on all students, faculty and staff, warning that students needed to be fully vaccinated by the time they returned to campus, and if they weren’t, they would have their class registrations canceled, and their email and CrimsonCards cut off.
The press release quoted IU School of Medicine professor Dr. Lana Dbeibo as saying that the Covid-19 vaccines were “extremely safe and effective.”
Less than two weeks later, on June 1, 2021, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) showed that 73 people in Indiana between the ages of 18 and 29 had gone to the emergency room following vaccination with one of the Covid-19 vaccines — either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.
In late December 2021, Scott Davison, the CEO of Indianapolis-based life insurance company OneAmerica, said that the entire life insurance industry was dealing with an unheard-of 40 percent increase in deaths among working-age people 18-64 in the third quarter of 2021.
The third quarter of 2021 included July, August and September — the same period in which the three IU students, two paramedics and IU Trustee Melanie Walker died suddenly and unexpectedly.