Southern Mississippi University student highly intoxicated and rammed window before fatal fall, witnesses say
A university student who fell to his death from the 11th floor of a New Orleans hotel room repeatedly rammed into and broke the window before he took his fatal plunge.
Witnesses told police Cole Whaley struck the window in the Double Tree Hotel room three times with his shoulder, CBS News reported. The 20-year-old University of Southern Mississippi student on Saturday broke through the window and fell 75 feet to the pool deck on the fourth floor.
Whaley, an Alabama native, was in New Orleans with several other students for a Pi Kappa Phi off-campus function, the university said.
His preliminary cause of death was classified as “blunt force injuries” consistent with his fall, the New Orleans Parish Coroner’s Office told the news station.
“We are still trying to figure out exactly what happened, but our understanding is that he alone broke out the window and then fell out of it,” Commander Nick Gernon said. “He was running into it at some point and accidentally broke it out and lost his balance and fell out the window.”
One of the fraternity brothers told police that Whaley was “highly intoxicated” at the time of the incident, according to a police report cited by CBS. Another brother said he’d already asked Whaley earlier in the day to stop ramming into the window after it appeared to shake.
Other witnesses said the fraternity brother had been “yelling and screaming” in his room after an earlier event on New Orleans’ Bourbon Street, according to the report.
Whaley also reportedly told his friends several times, “I wish we had a balcony so that we could view this awesome pool,” before the glass shattered and he plummeted to his death.
The student’s cause of death is still under investigation, and the Coroner’s report will determine whether or not alcohol played a factor.
The university, in a statement obtained by CBS, said it was mourning the loss of their student, a football player and honors student who was attending the Mississippi school on a full academic scholarship.
“We are all saddened by this tragedy, and are reaching out to his family friends and loved ones to offer our prayers and support,” said Dean of Students Eddie Holloway.