The UT business student who fell from his apartment balcony Monday night is one of at least four students who have died from fall-related injuries since 2006.
Richard Holland of Plano was pronounced dead at the University Medical Center Brackenridge after falling from his fifth-floor balcony at The Block apartments on Pearl Street, according to the Austin Police Department. Unlike the deaths of former students Tyler Cross in 2006, Daniel Toole in 2007 and Maximiliano Rodriguez in 2010, Holland’s friends said they do not believe alcohol or drugs were related to the accident. APD could not comment on whether or not there was alcohol at the scene.
According to previous Daily Texan news coverage, toxicology reports found Cross had a blood alcohol level of .19 when he fell from his fifth-floor balcony at University Towers. Rodriguez had a blood alcohol level of more than three times the legal limit when he fell from the fifth-floor of the Jefferson 26 apartments.
Medical examiners found traces of LSD and marijuana in the body of Toole, who also fell from the fifth-floor balcony of his Goodall-Wooten dormitory.
Sarah Scott, chief administrative officer for the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office, said an autopsy was conducted on Holland’s body Tuesday and examiners are currently processing the results. Scott said toxicology reports on the body will not be available for four to six weeks.
“Sometimes, when there is an obvious case of an injury, such as blunt force trauma, we’ll go ahead and assign a cause of death because the cause will be the same regardless of the toxicology report,” Scott said. “A toxicology report will tell us what kind of substances were in the individual’s blood stream and an alcohol presence will be confirmed or eliminated from the report.”
APD public information specialist Helena Wright said police are almost certain Holland’s fall was accidental but are currently looking into the case.
“If a death is ruled accidental, there will be no further investigation,” Wright said.
“But something like this isn’t open and shut that quickly, and they may still be gathering information.”
City residential inspector Byron Kurka said patio guardrails are required to stand 42 inches above the floor surface, and pickets along the railing cannot be more than four inches apart.
“Your average person’s center of gravity is below 42 inches,” Kurka said. “The rail hits you at above your center of gravity, but unfortunately, a lot of times people sit on the edge or on a barstool next to it. When you’re sitting on a barstool right next to it your center of gravity is going to be over that limit.”
The Block management did not return phone calls inquiring whether building codes are up to standards.
Funeral services for the UT sophomore friends described as loyal and energetic are scheduled for this weekend in the Dallas area. Visitation for Holland will be held Friday from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Ted Dickey West Funeral Home in Dallas, and the funeral will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Custer Road United Methodist Church in Plano.
Finance junior Ali Mavrakis, close friend of Holland, created a Facebook event to inform people about the arrangements. Mavrakis and other friends of the former student gathered Tuesday night at the University Catholic Center to remember Holland and share sentiments. An additional Facebook event has been created, inviting approximately 2,000 students from UT and other schools to wear yellow, Holland’s favorite color, on Sept. 6 in his honor.
Printed on September 1, 2011 as: West Campus has history of fall-related accidents