Coroner rules student death accidental from fall

September 22, 2009

University Park, Pa. — The death of 18-year-old Penn State student Joseph Dado has been ruled accidental and the cause has been attributed to "trauma to the head," according to Centre County Coronor Scott Sayers. Dado was found by University maintenance workers at 6 p.m. Sept. 21 at the bottom of a stairwell on the University Park campus after being reported missing.

Police are continuing their investigation into the incident, including whether someone provided Dado with alcohol or any illegal substances, and whether any alcohol was provided to him while he was at the Phi Gamma Delta fraternity. A toxicology test will be performed on the body, but results will not be available for several weeks.

"The Penn State community is grieving today," said Damon Sims, vice president for Student Affairs. "We all have been deeply affected by Joe's death, and already there have been several informal memorial gatherings among students and community members. "

No specific plans have been made yet for a formal memorial service. "Our first concern is participation in the pending funeral arrangements for Joe, assuming his family chooses to open it to others. We certainly will want to provide the family the opportunity to participate in any service planned here, so we'll honor their schedule as we make plans."

Dado, who was missing since 3 a.m. Sunday, was last seen leaving Phi Gamma Delta fraternity at 319 N. Burrowes Road. He was reported missing in the early hours of Sunday morning and police had been searching for him using search dogs and a Pennsylvania State Police helicopter, as well as interviewing scores of people, checking use of his ID and ATM cards, and publicizing his missing status. In addition, several community and student groups organized searches to aid in the effort to find Dado.

"The amount of support that we received during the search was incredible. Everyone from law enforcement agencies to student groups and community members came out to help in what is a tragic situation," Steve Shelow, University Police director, said.

Penn State Counseling and Psychological Services urges anyone who has been affected by this tragedy and needs to talk to someone, to call the center at (814) 863-0395.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated October 29, 2009