NORMAL — There are still more questions than answers about what led a 45-year-old woman living in France to climb a scaffolding outside of Watterson Towers on Sunday night, leading to a fatal fall of about 200 feet.
McLean County Coroner Beth Kimmerling identified the woman Monday as Alexandra Radulescu, who was last of South Carolina but was living in France at the time of her death.
Her autopsy was completed Monday, and preliminary findings indicated she died at the scene of multiple injuries resulting from a fall from heights, Kimmerling said. Forensic toxicology tests have been ordered.
“There is no new information to be shared regarding the circumstances of this unfortunate incident,” she said in a prepared statement.
Illinois State University spokesman Jay Groves said campus officials took steps to help students and staff cope with the incident. Student Counseling Services was called to Watterson Towers, ISU’s largest dorm complex, as soon as the incident occurred Sunday, said Director Sandy Colbs.
“The first thing we do is to mobilize our staff and be on site right away,” Colbs said. “We are available for those to meet with us and then, we also do door-to-door checks to ask how students are coping with it.”
Colbs has been with the university for 10 years and described Sunday’s incident as one of the most significant she has seen.
“What makes this one especially unique is that it happened at about dinner time when there were a lot of students walking around and accessible,” she said. “Not only were there a lot of people outside, but there were a lot of students in the commons or in their rooms and they could see the fire and rescue squads assembling.”
As a result, many people saw her climbing before the fall.
“That’s what made it more personal,” Colbs said.
Emergency dispatchers received a 911 call about 5:45 p.m. about a person climbing scaffolding framework the east side of the 28-story Watterson Towers. As police began blocking off the street, witnesses saw the woman stop climbing, lean away from the scaffolding and appear to leap.
She dropped to the Fell Avenue side of the building and was pronounced dead at the scene about 6:30 p.m.
All ISU instructors were provided with information sheets with a list of local resources and normal reactions for those witnessing a tragedy. Colbs said many witnesses may feel a range of symptoms such as sadness, fear, irritability, difficulty concentrating, anger, shock, disbelief, sleep disturbances and nightmares.
“The great thing about the ISU community is that we have a great reputation for pulling together as an entire campus to help each other out,” she said. “Professional counseling is available and our job now is to get the word out that there is help available now and as the weeks go by.”
Kimmerling said the most recent death as a result of a fall from a height on ISU’s campus was in September 2001 at Tri-Towers dorm complex.