Monday, December 04, 2006

The worst sort of story this time of year

Sophomore Jake Stiles was found dead in his bed in the SAE house on campus this past Saturday afternoon. The Dallas Morning News had some details Monday night.

More to come, count on it.

Three times I knew students who died suddenly during finals or just before the holiday break. Heartbreaking to think of the parents facing a funeral this time of year.

If alcohol is involved in this young man's death, well...that's a story the university's PR department dreads. But sadly, it's one they've had to deal with too many times before.


Anonymous Nancy said...

My heart goes out to his parents. My brother died at this time of year during his senior year of college. He was healthy, and no drugs or alcohol were found in his system. At the time (more than 30 years ago), the autopsy could not determine the cause of death; it was assumed some virus that had left no trace had killed him.

I suppose there's no hierarchy of grief over this kind of loss: the kid who gets drunk and dies as a result; the kid who dies in a car accident because someone was driving like a maniac; the kid who is bursting with health who dies suddenly anyway . . .

10:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why would campuses be a context that favour the death of young people? It is a sad story, Prof, thank you for sharing...

10:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So, so sad. Word on the street is that drugs were a factor in the death.

1:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's an update in the SMU Daily Campus :

4:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this one is even worse...

10:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Update story in the Daily Campus is not exactly a model of clarity. Lists the case as "Homicide -- Unknown Cause." That may be jargon for "we can't rule out homicide without a toxicology report, but that's just a non-criminal defense lawyer's guess. Nothing in the story explains the mention at all. The story also says that it will take "at least two months" for toxicology test to come back. Again, I don't do criminal defense work, but that time line seems highly suspect to me. It may take that long to get complete results, but I'll bet dollars to donuts that some results will be back well before then.

The SAE's, by the way, had a fraternity house fire when I was at SMU. One of their members who didn't live in the house, but was crashed there behind a couch, died in the fire. The fire was started when, the SAE's -- having failed to learn the lessons of Mrs. O'Leary's cow and the Chicago fire -- used hay bales and lanterns for party decorations. When the fire was discovered, everyone who lived in the house was successfully evacuated. But no one remembered, or was aware, that the young man who ultimately perished, had crashed behind the couch.

saw the fire very early that morning on the way to a debate tournament. The entire house was fully engulfed and burned to the ground. No mention of that episode in any of the reporting of this event. As I recall, toxicology reports showed that the house fire victim had been drinking, although the amount was not untoward or grossly excessive.

Both events are, needless to say, tragedies. But the job of a journalist is to report the facts and the history and context in which they arise. Seems like a there could be much better reporting in this case.

10:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pretty sure that was the ATO house. I was there at SMU then, too, and was a little sis. So tragic.

10:37 AM  
Anonymous renita said...

fyi, prof, the html is messed up on your DMN link. :)

11:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous, very curious as to where the word on the street came from? Even if drugs are involved, I imagine the family would like some closure? Do you see a confirm coming soon? Based upon the circumstances, this is a reasonable deduction

10:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep, it was the ATO house. I realized the mistake today while driving to Dallas.

However, if I'm not mistaken, in the same year (or very close to the same year) an SAE was killed or badly injured when he fell while doing hand stands on a balcony railing during a party at the Hyatt Regency. I think that was the source of my confusion. But I did recall while driving today that it was the ATO house that burned.

11:44 PM  
Anonymous Dolores H said...

As a student, I've been keeping my ears open and most of the gossip I hear is that there were drugs involved.

I really hope not. I really hope it's just people being really mean and making judgements over something they know nothing about. I would rather think worse of human nature than this poor kid. I didn't know him personally, but I saw him around campus and know people who knew him.

12:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The DMN link isn't working.

In case you haven't heard already-

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