Medical Examiner: UW student who passed away on campus died of blood clot in lung

SEATTLE — The Sophomore at the University of Washington who passed away on campus Wednesday died from pulmonary amboss deep venous thrombosis, a blood clot in her lung, the King County Medical Examiner’s Office said Thursday.

The examiner identified the victim as 19-year-old Hayley Smith.

The University of Washington Police Department said officers responded at 10:31 a.m. to an area north of the Electrical Engineering building and east of Drumheller Fountain after receiving reports that the woman slipped and fell and sustained a serious head injury.

Police told KIRO 7 on Wednesday that they had not yet confirmed whether the student slipped on ice.

A KIRO 7 news crew spotted “sidewalk closed” signs Wednesday afternoon in the area near where the student fell. UW police said the signs were not in place at the time of the fall and that the student did not slip and fall on a closed sidewalk.

“It’s icy in spots,” said UW senior Connor Hughes. “I think that everybody is a little devastated to hear it. It’s kind of hard to process, too.”

Major Steve Rittereiser, with the University of Washington Police Department, released the following statement on Friday:

"The King County Medical Examiner reported yesterday afternoon 19-year-old University of Washington student Hayley Smith died a result of a pulmonary embolism due to deep vein thrombosis.

"According to the CDC, a pulmonary embolism usually happens when a blood clot, often in your leg, travels to your lungs and blocks a blood vessel. If the clot is large, it can stop blood from reaching the lungs and is fatal. 

"The University of Washington Police Department Detectives found the King County Medical Examiner’s determination of death to be consistent with the information that they received from witnesses and from their investigation at the scene where Ms. Smith had collapsed. She did not slip as was first reported.

"The men and women of the University of Washington Police Department offer our heartfelt thoughts and condolences to the friends and family of Hayley Smith during this difficult time."

UW police detectives are investigating the incident. The university sent an alert to students and staff about the response on Wednesday morning.

University of Washington President Ana Marie Cauce tweeted the following statement:

My heart goes out to the family of the student who died as the result of a fall on campus. All of us at the University of Washington are grieving this terrible tragedy with them. Student safety is our number one priority, and UWPD is investigating the exact cause of the accident.

I've been in touch with the student's family and the University is doing all we can to support them in this difficult time.

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