Student who fell to her death was drunk

Germain Vigeant fell 10 stories through an open hatch at the Bunge grain elevator.

Jeannine Aquino

The University student who fell 100 feet to her death from atop an abandoned grain elevator in January was intoxicated, according to the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Germain Vigeant had been climbing the grain elevator near Dinkytown on Jan. 29 when she fell about 10 stories through an open hatch.

Vigeant’s death has brought attention to alcohol-related accidents.

Roberta Geiselhart, investigations supervisor at the medical examiner’s office, said Vigeant’s death was accidental.

“The immediate cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries due to a fall,” Geiselhart said. “The other significant condition is acute alcohol intoxication.”

Geiselhart did not say what Vigeant’s blood-alcohol concentration was, only that it was more than the 0.08 percent legal limit for driving.

“Even if she had been stone-cold sober, she would have died of the same things,” she said.

Vigeant was pronounced dead at the scene.

Students vastly underestimate their level of intoxication, said Dana Farley, adviser for the Student Network for Abuse Prevention. People don’t notice just how impaired they are, he said.

“It’s an unfortunate tragedy when people die in unintentional actions from falls, or getting into a vehicle and having a crash, or out swimming,” he said. “It shows the potent effect that alcohol can have in activities that you can normally perform.”

Farley said leading causes of death for 18- to 24-year-olds are motor vehicle accidents, falls and drowning.

Although Ron Reier, public information officer for the Minneapolis Police Department, said Vigeant’s case doesn’t surprise him, he is nonetheless frustrated it happened.

“Whether she was drinking or not, whatever else may have happened or did not happen, the fact is she and

this companion did not belong on that piece of property,” he said. “Therefore, it was 100 percent preventable. That’s what saddens and angers me the most.”

The Minneapolis Attorney’s Office filed misdemeanor charges against Damon Vaughan, the University student who was with Vigeant when she fell.

“We considered any other misdemeanor charges, but the only ones that have merit are the trespassing charges,” said Tim Richards, an assistant city attorney who is also the 2nd Precinct community prosecutor.