IU freshman dies after fall down stairs


Rachael Fiege, a 19-year-old Indiana University Bloomington freshman, passed away Saturday morning at IU Health Bloomington Hospital from injuries suffered in a fall early Friday morning at an off-campus house on North Park Avenue. 

IU Police and Bloomington emergency personnel were called to the house shortly before 8 a.m. Friday and found Ms. Fiege unconscious and not breathing.  

Ms. Fiege, who had moved into an IU residence hall earlier this week, was visiting friends at the house when she fell down a flight of stairs.  She was a Zionsville native who planned to study pre-nursing at IU. 

IU Police continue to investigate the incident.

Witnesses say Rachel fell down the basement steps at the house she was visiting, but people at the party waited at least six hours before calling 911 for help.

It happened at a house on North Park Avenue in the 800 block, just off the Indiana University campus in Bloomington.

Fiege had just arrived on campus Monday. Friends say she was at IU to study nursing.

"I saw two ambulances down on the corner, as well as a fire truck and three police cars, and I saw them going in with a gurney," said IU junior Morstein, who lives down the street from where the party took place.

"We were contacted at 7:48 this morning in reference to an unresponsive female," said IU Interim Police Chief Laury Flint on Friday.

Police are still investigating, but say the freshman fell sometime between 1:00 and 2:00 on Friday morning.

"I think they believed that it was not nearly as serious as it is," said Flint. "She was being monitored throughout the morning hours."

Six hours after her fall, though, the young woman wasn't responding, so others called for help.

"You just call 911, say, ‘I'm at this party and someone got hurt or someone's like really sick from alcohol,'" explained IU Junior Brad Groves of what he has done in a similar situation.

The incident is brining attention to Indiana's Lifeline Law.  It allows underage Hoosiers who have been drinking to call 911 without fear of punishment if someone needs help.

"If your friends need it, go for it," said Groves.

"None of us got in trouble. Like at the time, I wasn't 21 so I was a little scared, but nothing happened to me," said Groves.

"I definitely think people are scared to use it, 'cause I mean, a lot of parties have underage kids drinking and doing all kind of stuff and it's just not a place they want police," said IU junior Joe Morstein.

"Regardless of what's happening at the time, if something bad takes place, we need to be called right away," said Chief Flint.

It's a message IU police can't stress enough to students.

Police said they are waiting on toxicology reports and could not confirm alcohol played a role.

Learn more about the Lifeline Law here.