Autopsy: UNC freshman who fell to death had elevated alcohol level

Oct. 07, 2013 @ 05:22 PM

A UNC freshman who fell to his death last year at a Carrboro concrete plant had an alcohol level nearly three times the legal limit for drivers, according to an autopsy released Monday.

David Shannon died early the morning of Oct. 27 after he climbed machinery at Carrboro’s Ready Mixed Concrete Plant and fell about 30 feet. He was last seen at a pre-game party in Chapel Hill, and was supposed to attend a sorority dance afterward, but never made it. Friends found him the next day at the plant.

The circumstances surrounding his death remain unclear. Police have said he was alone when he fell, but haven’t said why he climbed up.

An autopsy report from the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner said Shannon, 18, had a .22 percent alcohol concentration in his blood. A blood-alcohol level of .08 is the legal limit for drivers in North Carolina.

The autopsy report said Shannon died of blunt trauma of the head, neck and torso resulting from a fall.

Shannon was a pledge in the Chi Phi fraternity.

Carrboro police haven’t ruled out hazing in his death, according to published reports.

Police Chief Walter Horton said in a recent email update to town staff that officers have reached out to members of the fraternity and the UNC community but received little information that could be confirmed.

Ross Masters, fraternity president, said Shannon was not being hazed by the fraternity the night he died, according to The Daily Tar Heel, UNC’s student newspaper. Masters said the fraternity does not haze its pledges.

Shannon’s father, Hugh Shannon, said he planned to talk this year with fraternity members and pledges at the university about the dangers of drinking and the need to keep track of friends who go out, in hopes of preventing another tragedy.