DES MOINES, Iowa - The family of Iowa State University student Jon Lacina has released a new statement on his death.
August 3, 2010 - Open letter from Tom and Alesia Lacina as to the death of Jon Lacina:
Since the June 30 State Medical Examiner's press release and our statement at the same time about our son, Jon, we have received many questions from people seeking a better understanding about Jon's death and why foul play was not suspected. We have just recently received the actual autopsy report, which is confidential. We have decided voluntarily to provide a few more facts in this open letter in order to give greater peace to Jon's friends an concerned individuals.
Jon went to a video game gathering the evening of January 22, played games, drank some alcohol, and left about 9:30 p.m. to go to his room about two blocks away. His friends described him as upbeat and not highly intoxicated when leaving. At about 11:00 p.m., Jon made an incomplete cell phone call from the area west of his dorm. The call was to a friend who wasn't at the video game gathering. There is no way of knowing the significance of that call, although it is believed to have occurred from a different area than the building where his body was found. Jon's body was found on April 14 in the half-basement boiler room of the unheated dairy pavilion building south of the main campus.
The investigation of the dairy pavilion location and the autopsy of Jon's body suggest Jon fell down the few, likely snow- covered and dark steps into the door and cut his hands on the glass in the door. Jon's shoes were often loosely tied and were found on the steps, suggesting a fall forward out of his shoes. The force of the impact opened the unlocked door. He was able to stand up and walk around some in the unlit building, but soon lay down at the location in the boiler room where he drifted into unconsciousness and eventually died. No drugs were present in Jon's system other than alcohol, which was calculated at the time of death at an average below the legal limit. There was blood loss from the cuts, but the amount is unknown. Jon suffered from occasional migraines. Rarely, they could disorient him and blur his vision.
The distance to the dairy pavilion was an easy mile walk from Jon's dorm, mostly on sidewalk. The temperature during the day and night of January 22 and all day January 23 never dropped below freezing, although it was on occasion quite foggy and windy. Jon had no coat on, and all his coats appear to be accounted for in his room and back pack. Jon would often wear the minimum amount of clothing needed for the temperature outside. Jon had lived at an ISU dorm very near the dairy pavilion the prior school year and knew the general area very well. Jon liked to go on walks and would do so even at night.
Based on these known facts, there is no way of concluding with certainty why or even when that weekend Jon ended up at the dairy pavilion. He could have become confused and lost because of alcohol or a migraine or both, or he could have just gone on a random walk for pleasure, headed behind the farm building to its hidden, unlit side for any one of a variety of reasons and experienced the accidental fall and resulting complications. Because of the distance and other factors, we tend to believe the latter occurred, or perhaps some combination of both. We'll never know for certain.
The Office of the State Medical Examiner found Jon's death to be accidental and to involve hypothermia as a significant factor. There was no evidence of foul play or anyone harming Jon. The findings of the autopsy are consistent with the police investigation. Beyond that, it is not possible to determine which factorshypothermia, blood loss, alcohol, the impact from the fall down the steps, and a possible migraineplayed what role in the events leading up to his death and the death itself.
The possible lessons are simple--buddy-up, drink in moderation if you drink, carry a well-charged cell phone with good batteries, and know your physical limitations. After taking reasonable precautions, however, we maintain living life fully is best. Life is precarious, and living every day fully is not just foolish optimism; it is a recognition all of us share the same end no matter what, and not living fully is at best laziness or fear or at worst a denial and a form of disrespect to those, older and younger, who have worked to enrich our lives. These may seem like strong words. They are the words of grieving parents trying to lean into the pain so as to continue moving forward day to day. We believe they express a truth about what it means to truly live, and certainly how we should live to honor our son, Jon.
We hope this statement provides some additional closure and shows how Jon's death occurred at the dairy pavilion from various contributing factors without foul play being involved. We intend not to issue any further statements about Jon's death but rather to focus our energy on nurturing our fond memories f him and living so as to show respect for how Jon enriched our lives.