UPDATE: As ISU VEISHEA Celebration Under Way, 21-Year-Old Man Dies in Early Morning Fall from Ames Balcony
Four-story fall occurs as thousands of students and alumni gather in the city for VEISHEA celebration. Updated with video report.
As thousands of people were gathering in Ames for VEISHEA, the annual student-led celebration, a 21-year-old man was killed when he fell four stories from an apartment building in Ames.
Ames police said they responded at 1:52 a.m. to a call that a man had fallen from the building in Campustown.
The man was identified only as a visitor to the city. He was found at the Chamberlain Lofts at 2519 Chamberlain Street, an area of mostly student residences.
The man was taken to Mary Greeley Medical Center where he was pronounced dead, according to police, who said the fall appeared to be accidental.
Chamberlain Lofts is in the center of Campustown. The building provides office space on its first story and rents lofts on its upper levels. The building is secure but doors to its stairwell were accessible from the street Saturday. Community style balconies are at both ends of each residential floor. Residents who live closest to the balcony on the fourth floor where the fall occured said they were sleeping when the accident happened. The doors to the ballconies are normally left unlocked, but seucrity locked them after the incident, one man said.
Cmdr. Jim Robinson of the Ames Police Department said the victim was visiting Ames and was not an Iowa State University student.
Thousands of ISU alumni and visitors are in town from around the state for the annual VEISHEA celebration at Iowa State University.
VEISHEA is an annual celebration held at Iowa State each spring, and one of its oldest traditions, starting in 1922. It serves as a showcase and display of the Iowa State community with a variety of educational and entertainment events.
Past Problems at VEISHA
According to an Iowa State task force report on VEISHA, the celebration has been marred by sporadic violence in recent decades. The report says VEISHEA became overshadowed by unofficial parties held off-campus.
Confrontations between police and partygoers escalated into riots in 1988 and 1992, the report said. The stabbing death of Harold "Uri" Sellers on the lawn of Adelante Fraternity in 1997 forced the administration and student leaders to address problems associated with VEISHEA. During the 2004 celebration another riot occurred in the Campustown area of Ames, seriously putting the future of the VEISHEA in jeopardy.
In the aftermath of the 2004 riots, then-ISU President Gregory Geoffroy suspended VEISHEA for 2005 and a task force made recommendations to minimize the possibility of a similar problems. VEISHA was reinstated the following year.
Anyone with information related to Saturday's incident is asked to call the Ames Police Department at (515) 239-5133.