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Wednesday, August 20, 2014 | Last updated: 11:29am

Police look into ease of roof access at residence hall



This Friday will mark one week since the death of Michael Anderson, a pre-business freshman who died from injuries sustained after he fell from a ventilation structure onto the roof of Colonia de la Paz Residence Hall.

Anderson and his friend were climbing the tower-like structure on the roof of the residence hall when he fell, according to Sgt. Filbert Barrera, public information officer for the University of Arizona Police Department.

However, it seems Anderson and his friend weren’t the first students to gain access to the roof of the residence hall.

One student, a physiology freshman, said he has climbed up Colonia de la Paz before, for no reason other than to see if it was possible.

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By Rebecca Marie Sasnett / The Daily Wildcat
Michael Anderson, 19, died from complications due to a fall at Colonia de la Paz Residence Hall.

“It was honestly something I did to prove that I could do it,” said the freshman, who requested to remain anonymous. “It was a completely sober action; I just wanted to know if I could.”

Barrera said that he was unable to comment on how someone would gain access to the roof or if it was difficult, due to the ongoing investigation.

“As far as how to get up there, I can’t really talk about that,” Barrera said. “I know that we have had cases in the past where I have caught people up there [on roofs] when I was in patrol, maybe about two years ago.”

Barrera said that he believes gaining access to the roofs of campus buildings would require climbing that uses a lot of upper body strength, and added that he believes he wouldn’t be physically able to climb up there.

The freshman said the residence hall was incredibly easy to climb because of the way the building was designed.

“The outside of the building is basically like a ladder,” he said. “The bricks are patterned so one layer is inlaid, the next layer is out, so basically it’s just steps up.”

Nick Sweeton, senior director of residential education, said he does not know how one would get on the roof area of Colonia de la Paz. He added that he wants students to be aware of the resources available to cope with Anderson’s death.

“Students grieve in many different ways,” Sweeton said. “We are paying attention to the community response. We encourage people to talk to their friends and parents about it and to connect with the UA resources, like the counseling center.”

As far as changing the security measures of the residence hall, Sweeton said that will have to wait until the investigation is complete.

“I’m certain there will be recommendations made,” Sweeton said, “and we would, of course, abide by any recommendations.”

The freshman said he isn’t sure how the security of the buildings could be improved to prevent people from climbing up.

“I don’t know how you would, frankly,” he said. “It’s the structure of the building itself.”

UA President Ann Weaver Hart also addressed Anderson’s death at the faculty senate meeting on Monday. Hart expressed her sorrow but said she was relieved to know that, as a university, there was nothing that could have been done to alert campus officials that the two students were climbing the residence hall early that Friday morning.


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