Janitor falls to his death

By By Ana Breton

By Ana Breton

A member of the U custodial staff died Thursday night after he allegedly jumped off the 5th floor observation deck of the Warnock Engineering Building.

Police say the 53-year-old janitor jumped sometime around 8:45 p.m. Police received the first call at 8:56 p.m. from someone in or near the building who saw the body, said Capt. Lynn Mitchell with the U Police Department.

Although Mitchell said a name would not be released because of the nature of the incident, Richard Brown, dean of the College of Engineering, said the man had worked as a custodian on campus for a number of years.

However, Brown said supervisors noted the man failed to show up for work that day and had not been assigned to the building that night.

Police said evidence indicated that the man had climbed over the glass guardrail at Clyde Plaza, a small observation deck behind the engineering building, and fell more than 50 feet to his death.

He landed in an open courtyard between a U-shaped part of the building. Mitchell said the man left a note that led police to believe the incident was a suicide.

“We suspect he had the note with him (when he jumped),” Mitchell said. “Basically, it laments his wife.”

Melissa Chesney, a Utah Valley State College alumna, was taking an LSAT test in the engineering building when a woman came into her classroom and told them about the incident.

Chesney said she had not heard or seen the man during the incident, but could see the body from her first-floor classroom, which was adjacent to the common area.

A crowd began to form of people who were still in the building, she said.

“We were all in disbelief,” Chesney said. “It was surreal. Everyone walked around dazed and tried to deal with it in their own way.”

Brown sent a mass e-mail to faculty and staff members informing them of the “tragic loss of life.”

Students, however, were not informed.

“They should have said something to the students,” said junior computer science major Alex Evans. “People still don’t know it happened.”

Evans found out about the incident because his friend called him after seeing the man, whom he thought was just sleeping in the courtyard.

“He was shaken up; he’d never seen anything like that,” Evans said.

The doors to the observation deck have been closed until further notice, Brown said.

Police are conducting an investigation concerning the case. Mitchell said a toxicology report will reveal if the man was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the incident. Police will also interview the man’s family to find out more about the man’s mental state, Mitchell said.

This is the first reported suicide on campus this year. The most recent in memory, Mitchell said, occurred in 2003.

“It’s traumatizing,” Chesney said. “It’s unbelievable that something like this could happen here.”

Brown encouraged students and faculty who are feeling troubled because of the incident to contact the Counseling Center at 581-6826.

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Jarad Reddekopp

A member of the U custodial staff died Thursday night after he jumped from the 5th-floor observation deck of the Warnock Engineering Building.