Alcohol a Factor in Student's Death From Fall

The UNC student whose body was discovered last year at a Carrboro concrete plant was significantly impaired by alcohol when he fell from a piece of equipment, a plunge that caused fatal trauma to his head, neck and torso, according to an autopsy released this week.

The state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner reported that 18-year-old David Shannon’s blood-alcohol concentration was 0.22, reinforcing long-held beliefs by police that alcohol played a role in the freshman student’s death on Oct. 27, 2012.

Carrboro police Capt. Chris Atack said that while the autopsy provided little new information, he hoped that its release, along with the upcoming anniversary of Shannon’s death, would spark new leads.

“We’re confident that there’s somebody out there who has information that has not come forward,” he said.

Messages left for the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services seeking an explanation as to why the autopsy took nearly a year to complete were not returned this week.

Investigators have been trying to unearth details about how Shannon wound up falling more than 40 feet from machinery at the plant on Brewer Lane. The autopsy says he climbed a tall tower and attempted to traverse a cable stay.

One possibility investigators have looked into is whether hazing was a factor. Shannon was nearing completion of the pledge process at Chi Phi fraternity.

Last month, Carrboro Police Chief Walter Horton sent an email to the town manager, saying that officers could file charges under North Carolina’s anti-hazing statute depending on what information surfaces. No such charges had been filed as of Thursday.

In September, Chi Phi President Ross Masters told The Daily Tar Heel that Shannon was not being hazed on the night he fell. “Masters said the fraternity does not haze its pledges,” the paper reported.


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