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University of Arizon student falls from tower, dies

Police say a University of Arizona student died after falling from a roof-top structure at a residence hall Friday morning.

Police said 19-year-old freshman Michael Evan Anderson from Mission Viejo, Calif., was climbing a 20-foot metal cooling tower on the top of the three-story Colonia de la Paz residence hall when he slipped and fell.

University police said the fall appeared to be an accident.

University police and the Tucson Fire Department responded to a 911 call shortly before 4 a.m., and Anderson was pronounced dead at the scene, said UA Police Sgt. Filbert Barrera. Police haven’t determined yet whether alcohol was a factor.

A witness told police that he and Anderson got onto the roof by climbing the exterior wall of the residence hall. Then they climbed the metal frame of the cooling unit. Anderson fell off the cooling unit and onto the roof.

Counselors are on hand to support friends of the victim and students at the residence hall. Police believe the victim lived at the co-ed residence hall, which is on Highland Avenue west of the football stadium and is owned and operated by the university. Colonia de la Paz is one of the newer residents halls on campus, built in 1995, and houses about 500 students.

The death marks the second time in less than a week that an Arizona college student has died related to falling from a building. Early Sunday morning, an 18-year-old Arizona State University student plunged to her death from a 10th-story balcony at an off-campus high rise in Tempe.

Police believe Naomi McClendon was intoxicated when she was taken to an apartment where she later walked onto the balcony, lost her balance and fell to her death. The accident occurred at 922 Place, a high-rise apartment complex that caters to students near Rural Road and Apache Boulevard.

Local police say such incidents are rare. But cases occasionally pop up nationally. Sometimes they are ruled accidents; other times suicides. In November, a 20-year-old Penn State student died after falling from a ninth floor apartment balcony. The previous April, a Penn State cheerleader survived after accidentally falling from a fifth-floor window of another building.

In recent years, both ASU and the UA have seen more high-rise buildings catering to students in the neighborhoods surrounding the universities.

The Arizona Board of Regents, who oversee the state universities, last year launched a student safety task force over concerns of recent student deaths and injuries, many of them related to fraternities and alcohol consumption. Seven months later, the regents have yet to hold any public meetings on the topic. But reports and recommendations from the universities are due in June.

Contributing: Jim Walsh, Arizona Republic, The Associated Press

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