Sudden deaths in a college town

Three Indiana University students died suddenly about a year ago.

So did a member of the Indiana University Board of Trustees.

So did two paramedics in the area and a couple of college students who attended other universities nearby.

Two of the deaths of Indiana University students were so close together, and so baffling, that the county coroner, Joanie Stalcup, says she turned to law enforcement and asked if they knew what could be happening.

One was IU undergraduate student Mia Roy, age 20, whose roommate found her dead on the couch in their apartment on Tuesday, September 14, 2021.

In Bloomington, home to Indiana University, Mia Roy lived in an apartment at Stadium Crossing, a multi-building complex on Dunn Street, across from IU’s football stadium on the north side of campus.

She was from Crown Point, Indiana.

News reports of her death like this one stressed that there was “no evidence of foul play or self-harm.”

An autopsy was done, and the cause of death was found to be related to a cold she’d had the week before, Stalcup said.

But she said that because this was such a rare occurrence — that a healthy young woman should die from such a mild illness — she still had questions, and so had a tissue sample sent to the CDC for testing in the fall of 2021.

She said this week that she hasn’t yet heard anything back from the CDC.

A second death of an IU student of about the same age occurred within a few weeks, Stalcup said.

“In my opinion it was unusual because they were around the same age and had similar stories that surrounded their deaths,” she said. “However, there was nothing suspicious found in autopsies. There was nothing in their cause of death that was suspicious. It’s just odd.”

As with Mia Roy, an otherwise healthy young person was just suddenly dead.

And there was actually a third sudden death of an IU student that had happened just a few weeks earlier — though outside the county.

Devyn Williams, age 18, was on the last day of an end-of-summer vacation out West with her mother on Aug. 19, 2021, visiting Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. The next day, they were to fly to Indianapolis, where Devyn’s father was going to pick her up and drive her down to Bloomington so she could begin her freshman year at Indiana University.

 

When reached by phone earlier this year, her mother described what happened on that terrible day, saying Devyn had an asthma attack, and that she had tried to use her nebulizer, but that it didn’t work: She couldn’t get her breath. By the time paramedics arrived at their rental accommodations in the park, it was too late: Devyn couldn’t be revived.

 

 

Devyn had been vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine in April, said her mother, Angela Lacy.

When asked whether her death could have been related to the vaccine, she said she could see why some people might ask this, but that she just didn’t know.

An autopsy was done, said Lacy, and the cause of death was found to be related to the asthma attack.

You can read the obituary for Devyn Williams here.

**

The same month, two paramedics in the Bloomington area died suddenly on the job — both while in the company of other first responders who rendered immediate assistance.

The first was Brandon Staley, age 46, who was stricken with intense chest pains on Aug. 8 while he was on duty as an EMT in Owen County, about 20 miles from Bloomington. He was riding in the back of an ambulance with another paramedic treating two children who had just been injured in a car accident north of Gosport when he was gripped by chest pain, lost consciousness and died.

The second was Kyle Martincic, age 34, of Ellettsville, the small town just west of Bloomington. He worked as an EMT and a firefighter, and was at the fire station doing physical fitness training on Aug. 23 when he suffered a “sudden cardiac emergency.”

Despite being surrounded by first responders (his fellow firefighters) who provided immediate lifesaving care, he could not be saved.

**

On July 31, 2021, the IU community and the city of Bloomington were shocked by the sudden death of an energetic member of the IU Board of Trustees — Melanie Walker, age 62.

Melanie Walker, a member of the IU Board of Trustees, died suddenly on July 31, 2021.

Walker was the president of TASUS Corp, a subsidiary of a Japanese manufacturing company with more than 600 employees in the United States.

At the time she was appointed president of TASUS at the age of 34, she was thought to be the first female president of a Japanese-owned manufacturing company in the United States.

At the time of her sudden death, she was also an active member of the board of the Indiana Economic Development Corp., the IU Credit Union, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and Susie’s Place Child Advocacy Center; and president of the board of the Japan-America Society of Indiana, president of the American Heart Association executive leadership team and an Indiana delegate to the White House Conference on Small Business.

Just a few years before, in 2017, she had adopted a teenage girl named Stormy, who had spent most of her life in foster care.

Melanie Walker, right, with adopted daughter Stormy. (Photo by Lisa Walker)

 

Walker had been appointed to the IU Board of Trustees in 2016 by then-governor Mike Pence.

No cause of death was reported either by Indiana University or the media.

Her obituary noted only that her death was unexpected.

An acquaintance said that she’d had cardiac issues.

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In addition to the three IU students who died in August and September of 2021, there were two other sudden deaths of IU students months before.

Third-year IU law school student David Gray died in mid-December of 2020 shortly after getting the Covid-19 vaccine, a friend of his told Crossroads Report.

“He was flying back on a plane from Mexico, and was talking to flight attendant and he just ‘nodded off,’” the friend said in an email. “She thought he went to sleep. He had massive heart attack.”

“They are not 100% sure from vaccine, but he did have it,” he added.

The friend said, however, that he did not know where or when Gray got the vaccine. The first vaccines were not administered in Indiana until mid-December.

The IU Maurer School of Law announced Gray’s death in a Facebook post, saying they were “shocked by his sudden and untimely death.”

Gray was from New York, and was described by his friend as a “brilliant and handsome” Jewish man in his 30s.

**

On April 2, 2021 a 20-year-old IU student named Jacob Schleinz was talking to two girls on the balcony of a fourth-story apartment in the early morning hours when, bizarrely, they said he just stopped talking and fell over the balcony railing.

Schleinz was a student in the IU Kelley School of Business and had a summer job lined up at United Health in Indianapolis.

Several major healthcare organizations in Indiana began mandating the vaccine for employees and interns in the summer of 2021. It’s not known whether Schleinz would have been required to get a vaccine in order to begin working at United Health.

People magazine wrote about his tragic death here.

**

Another sudden death of a college student in the area was reported in the media in September.

A Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology student named Erin Canning was reported to have died “as a result of injuries sustained in an accident.” No other explanation was provided.

Canning was a member of the Rose-Hulman women’s soccer team. She was from Pittsburgh.

**

And ANOTHER here at a different nearby school, Indiana State University. A freshman named Dylan McConkey who was going to major in computer science was found dead by his roommates on Aug. 22, 2021.

**

Indiana University announced on May 21, 2021 that it was imposing a vaccine mandate on all students, faculty and staff, warning that students needed to be fully vaccinated by the time they returned to campus, and if they weren’t, they would have their class registrations canceled, and their email and CrimsonCards cut off.

The press release quoted IU School of Medicine professor Dr. Lana Dbeibo as saying that the Covid-19 vaccines were “extremely safe and effective.”

Less than two weeks later, on June 1, 2021, the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) showed that 73 people in Indiana between the ages of 18 and 29 had gone to the emergency room following vaccination with one of the Covid-19 vaccines — either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccine.

In late December 2021, Scott Davison, the CEO of Indianapolis-based life insurance company OneAmerica, said that the entire life insurance industry was dealing with an unheard-of 40 percent increase in deaths among working-age people 18-64 in the third quarter of 2021.

The third quarter of 2021 included July, August and September — the same period in which the three IU students, two paramedics and IU Trustee Melanie Walker died suddenly and unexpectedly.