State police are assisting the University of South Carolina division of law enforcement in investigating two deaths on the school’s Columbia, S.C. campus, multiple sources familiar with the situation have confirmed to this news outlet.
Agents of the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) were dispatched to the campus on Friday to assist in the investigations into both fatalities per state law, according to our sources.
The two deaths are unrelated, according to both university and law enforcement sources.
Regarding the first death: According to my university sources, SLED was called to investigate an “isolated incident” at the Discovery Plaza parking garage located at 821 Park Street in downtown Columbia. Initial reports from sources on the scene point to a “probable suicide,” however this news outlet is awaiting a formal statement from SLED.
The second fatality is said to be related to a “medical event” which reportedly occurred at Maxcy residence hall on campus.
“SLED was requested by the University of South Carolina to investigate two on-campus deaths,” a statement from agency public information director Renée Wunderlich noted. “At this time, the two incidents appear to be unrelated. Inquiries regarding the identities of the deceased should be directed to the Richland County Coroners Office. No further details are available at this time as SLED agents investigate.”
Again, both university and law enforcement sources stressed the two deaths were “unrelated.”
Students were informed of the two deaths via an email from university president Michael Amiridis.
“It is with great sadness that I learned this morning of the death of one of our students in a residence hall and the death of a faculty member found near the Discovery parking garage on campus,” Amiridis wrote. “My condolences go out to the families impacted by these deaths.”
According to Richland County coroner Naida Rutherford, the body discovered near the parking garage has been identified as 48-year-old Anna M. Gawlicka-Chruszcz.
SLED leads inquiries into on-campus deaths in South Carolina per a 2007 law requiring them to investigate all fatalities “occurring on the property” of institutions of higher learning in the Palmetto State. SLED is required by the same law (§ 59-154-10) to assist in investigating alleged sexual assaults that occur on South Carolina’s college campuses.”
Campus police are required to report such incidents to SLED under “Jessica Horton’s Law” – a 2007 statute named for former University of South Carolina student Jessica Horton.
In 2002, Horton fell to her death from a sixth-floor dormitory on campus. Her parents did not believe school police were capable of conducting a proper investigation into her death, and so state senator Vincent Sheheen – who represented them in the S.C. Senate – introduced legislation putting SLED in charge of these inquiries.
As for the reported suicide on campus a reminder: If anyone reading this post is dealing with issues that have them questioning whether to take their own life (or thinking of harming themselves), please – call a friend. You can also reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 1-800-273-TALK. Or just text or call 988 (more info here). As I often say, “you are not alone – you are never alone.”
This is a developing story … please check back for updates.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR …
Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.
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