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Student falls from balcony

Scott Brodfuehrer | Thursday, March 18, 2004

A student attending a St. Patrick’s Day party at the College Park apartment complex was seriously injured after he fell from a second story balcony at approximately 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, prompting police to bust the party and make six arrests.

St. Joseph County Police Spokesperson Jaimee Thirion said the student, senior Michael Seiler who lives in College Park, was transported by ambulance to St. Joseph Regional Medical Center. The hospital declined to release Seiler’s condition and multiple calls to his apartment were not answered.

Sgt. John Pavlekovich, shift supervisor for the St. Joseph County Police, said he was already at College Park responding to a noise complaint when the student fell. He said students approached him to report that a person had fallen.

“So I ran over there, and the kid was lying on the ground. He had numerous abrasions to the mouth, missing teeth; he was hurting,” Pavlekovich said.

Pavlekovich said that the student was playing catch with fruit on the upper balcony and fell off while trying to catch a piece of fruit.

Pavlekovich said that when he arrived at College Park to respond to the original noise complaint, the area was disorderly and there were also between 20 to 30 cars illegally parked on Bulla Road.

“I came out here and there were probably 5 to 600 people in the parking lot on the balcony, screaming, yelling and loud music. You could hear it down to the corner of Ironwood and Bulla,” Pavlekovich said.

After the fall, Pavlekovich said he called additional units, and officers responded from the St. Joseph County, South Bend and Roseland police departments and the Indiana State Excise Police.

LouAnn Susan, property manager from Paramount Management, who owns the complex, also arrived at College Park after being called at approximately 5 p.m. by a student who reported that there had been an injury.

Susan said she made a combined decision with the police to ask anyone who did not live in the apartments to leave the complex, partially because balconies, which are limited to eight people, were being overloaded.

A group of officers moved from apartment to apartment from approximately 5:30 to 8:30 p.m., forcing students to leave the apartments. Police asked students for identification and breathalyzed them if they tried to drive away from the complex.

During this time, Thirion said six individuals were arrested by police and transported to the St. Joseph County Jail. Two were arrested for public intoxication and four were arrested for minor in consumption. One person who was arrested for minor in consumption was also arrested for providing false identification. She said that another student was very uncooperative and police will send a report on him to the prosecutor’s office.

She said it was not unusual that students were taken to jail instead of just being issued citations, given the repeated warnings that students were given by police to leave.

“When we got out there, they asked everyone to leave. It’s not like they didn’t have time,” Thirion said. “It probably would have been wise [for them to leave earlier].”

A sergeant from the Notre Dame Security/Police, who declined to be named, also arrived at College Park and temporarily helped direct traffic. She said that NDSP did not receive a request for assistance from county police, but said that NDSP routinely responds to situations involving students when they hear about them on the police scanner.

“County didn’t ask for any backup or anything … I haven’t talked to any of the students, I’m not involved with any of the things,” she said.

Last year, police busted a larger party at College Park on St. Patrick’s Day, where a student also fell off a balcony.

Pavlekovich said the goal of the police was to restore order, not make arrests.

“Our main objective out here is not to place anybody under arrest if we don’t have to,” he said. “We understand about the intoxication, but we also have the public to worry about around this neighborhood.”