Exploration proves fatal for student

The abandoned Bunge grain elevator sits in Southeast Como, where a woman fell to her death while exploring the interior on Saturday. This is not a first  for the the tower, as in 2006 University student Germain Vigieant fell to her death while exploring without a flashlight.

Alex Tuthill-Preus

The abandoned Bunge grain elevator sits in Southeast Como, where a woman fell to her death while exploring the interior on Saturday. This is not a first for the the tower, as in 2006 University student Germain Vigieant fell to her death while exploring without a flashlight.

A woman died after a three-story fall in Southeast Como’s Bunge grain elevator late Saturday, who authorities later identified as University of Minnesota student Emily Roland.
 
The 20-year-old sophomore was trespassing in the tower — situated a block west of Van Cleve Park — with two college-aged friends when she slipped through a debris-covered hole and fell from 140 feet above the ground into an empty metal grain bin three stories below, said Minneapolis Fire Department Deputy Chief Don Leedham. 
 
Fire department crews responded just before 10 p.m. and worked for about two hours to remove Roland, according to a statement released Sunday. A 
Hennepin County Medical Center doctor was lowered into the grain elevator to provide care.
 
Roland died at HCMC early Sunday morning from a string of blunt-force injuries, according to a Monday press release from the Hennepin County Medical Examiner.
 
“Unfortunately, in spite of [doctors’ best] efforts, the victim passed away as a result of the severe injuries suffered from the fall,” officials said in the Sunday statement.
 
‘Avoid these places’
 
Despite its history of dangerous falls, the abandoned Bunge elevator is something of a hotspot for young people participating in urban exploring — a pastime that involves trekking into manufactured, typically abandoned structures.
 
For example, in 2006, University of Minnesota student Germain Vigeant fell 100 feet to her death in the Southeast Como elevator, which has sat vacant since 2003.
 
Last year, rescue officials saved a man after a similar fall in the Fruen Mill in west Minneapolis.
 
People sometimes force their way into the Bunge grain elevator, which has doors welded shut and several other openings covered with plywood, said Leedham, the fire department deputy chief.
 
“People will be people from time to time and push the envelope and get into things where they shouldn’t be,” he said. “Unfortunately, [a death] can be the end result. It’s devastating for their family, obviously, and everyone involved.”
 
Urban exploration affects college-aged adults most, who are looking for adventure, Leedham said.
 
“It’s not only trespassing, so it’s illegal, but it’s also very dangerous,” he said. “The message just has to get out to avoid these places.”
 
 
Elizabeth Smith contributed to this report.