Autopsy: Alcohol played role in UNC-CH student’s fall

tgrubb@newsobserver.comOctober 7, 2013 

David Shannon

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— An autopsy shows UNC-Chapel Hill sophomore David Shannon had nearly three times the legal limit of alcohol in his blood when he fell to his death last year in Carrboro.

Shannon, 18, died from blunt trauma to the head, neck and torso resulting from fall, states the N.C. Office of the Medical Examiner autopsy released Monday. The autopsy also found that Shannon’s blood-alcohol content was 0.22 – nearly three times the state’s legal limit of 0.08.

Friends found Shannon’s body Oct. 27, 2012, after following his cellphone GPS signal to the Ready Mixed Concrete Plant in Carrboro. They called 911 and performed CPR while waiting for Carrboro police to arrive.

Police reported that Shannon’s injuries were consistent with a fall. They also said Shannon may have been alone when he fell 30 feet from a conveyor cable to the concrete surface below. They continue to investigate the hours leading up to Shannon’s death, police said.

The Charlotte native was a pledge at Chi Phi fraternity and was last seen at a pre-game party in Chapel Hill. He never made it to a sorority dance later that day.

Capt. Chris Atack said Carrboro police have a timeline of what happened that day. Shannon’s alcohol level is not a small number and almost certainly led to his death, he said.

While it is possible that hazing was involved, investigators haven’t reached a conclusion yet, he said. They need more people to come forward with information, but they can’t compel someone to talk, he said.

“Initially, we did not receive a lot of information from certain folks,” he said. “We’re hoping they have reconsidered. Maybe their conscience is bothering them.”

Shannon’s father, Hugh Shannon, talked earlier this year with fraternity members and pledges about the dangers of drinking. Shannon also is survived by his mother Katy Shannon and older brother Stephen.

Police ask anyone with information about Shannon’s whereabouts or activities before the accident to call Lt. Anthony Westbrook at 919-918-7417.

Grubb: 919-932-8746

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