Alcohol was likely a contributing factor
Miami University President Gregory Crawford emailed the Miami community Thursday morning expressing his devastation with the death of first-year Erica Buschick and suggesting that high-risk alcohol consumption was to blame.
The Butler County Coroner’s office has not released a toxicology report, but a 25-page incident report obtained by The Miami Student from the Miami University Police Department, containing written statements and emails from witnesses, helps to create a timeline of the events that transpired before Buschick’s death.
The records suggest that alcohol most likely contributed to Buschick’s death.
According to the incident report, Buschick returned to Miami at approximately 5 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 19. Buschick and her roommate, first-year student Reilley Graves, started drinking in their dorm room shortly after 9 p.m. that night. Together, they consumed about two bottles of champagne, Graves told MUPD.
In an email on Jan. 23, Graves told MUPD that she brought two bottles of champagne and a bottle of pink wine from her garage refrigerator at home, and Erica got her alcohol from her parents.
Records show that shortly after 10 p.m. Buschick’s friend Matt Hearty picked her and Graves up to take them to party at 218 N. Poplar Street. Before leaving for the party, Buschick and Graves filled a water bottle just over half full with vodka.
They consumed the bottle of vodka by about 10:45 p.m., Graves told MUPD. She said that when she and Buschick ran out of vodka, the guys brought out a “huge bottle of grey goose.”
“They told us it was not grey goose but cheap vodka,” Graves wrote. “Erica and I were taking shots of that vodka.”
At approximately 11:30 p.m., Buschick, Graves and others from the party started walking toward Brick Street Bar Uptown. In his written statement to MUPD, Hearty wrote that as everyone was leaving to head Uptown, Buschick fell.
“I went to help her and suggested she not go Uptown,” he wrote. “She refused and I continued to hold her hand to prevent her from falling.”
Graves got to Brick Street and stood in the “under 21” line. She had been calling Buschick’s cell for several minutes when Hearty picked up the phone. The incident report shows that Hearty told Graves Buschick was too intoxicated to get into Brick Street and that she needed to be taken home.
Graves found Hearty and Buschick in front of The Woods Bar between 12:05 a.m. and 12:10 a.m. and called Miami Taxi.
After calling the taxi, Graves stated that the she, Buschick and Hearty started walking back toward the apartment on North Poplar St. The taxi driver, Jason Colwell, picked up Graves and Buschick just north of McCullough Hyde Hospital.
In an interview with MUPD, Colwell said that Buschick and Graves were both conscious when they entered the taxi. When they arrived at Morris Hall, he said, Graves had to wake Buschick. Once Buschick and Graves got out of the taxi, Buschick fell to the ground face first. Graves said that Buschick scraped her knee and face from the fall.
Graves needed help getting Buschick into the dorm, Graves said, so she and Colwell held Buschick’s arms and walked her to their room on the second floor of the building. Once they entered their room, Colwell said, he propped up Buschick against her bed. Graves paid Colwell the fare for the taxi ride as well as extra money for helping her.
Colwell told MUPD that he was concerned Buschick would fall and hit her head, so he laid her down on her left side on a bean bag chair on their floor. Colwell told Graves to keep an eye on Buschick.
Before she fell asleep, at around 1 a.m., Graves posted a photo of Buschick, laying on the bean bag chair, to an Instagram account. Graves told MUPD that it was simply a post about being drunk and MUPD removed the image from the Instagram account at 2 p.m. on Jan. 20.
Graves said that she woke up at approximately 3 a.m. and noticed Buschick was still on the bean bag before falling back asleep. When Graves woke up the next morning, she saw that Buschick had not moved and called 911 for help.
MUPD officers were dispatched to Morris Hall at 8:57 a.m. Oxford Life Squad arrived at 9:01 a.m., and the Butler County Coroner was notified of the incident at 9:06 a.m.
Among the items collected from Buschick’s room was an expired Missouri driver’s license of a 23-year-old female.
In his official statement, Crawford said that Buschick’s death has been devastating to the entire Miami community, who “lost a vibrant young woman with hopes and dreams ahead of her.”
While the university’s immediate concern was providing support for Buschick’s friends and family, Crawford will be working with the university’s senior leadership to “undertake a holistic assessment” of their efforts to prevent high-risk alcohol consumption by students.
“High-risk alcohol consumption among college students is of concern to every university president and I am determined and committed to doing all that we can to help ensure the well-being of all of our students,” Crawford wrote.