Stairway death of BU professor called accident
DA’s office says no criminal charges will be filed
LAW ENFORCEMENT officials have concluded the death of Boston University professor David K. Jones last fall was an accident, caused when he ducked around a fence blocking access to a broken-down staircase near the JFK/UMass Station and then fell through a gap in the stairway.
The September 11 death provoked an outpouring of grief and also a lot of speculation about why a jogger out for a long weekend run in the middle of a beautiful day in September would attempt to climb a staircase blocked off to the public and not notice how badly deteriorated it was.
“Our determination was that it was accidental, and that Mr. Jones did not realize that there was a gap in the stairs,” said State Police spokesman David Procopio in an email. “There was a wire fence blocking access to the stairs at the bottom but someone wanting to get onto the stairs could get through the side of it. It is our belief that Mr. Jones did so to access the stairs and jogged up them not realizing that there was a gap ahead of him.”
Procopio, who was responding to a query earlier this month, said the State Police issued no report on the results of their investigation. He said the final determination about what happened on the staircase would be up to the Suffolk County district attorney’s office.
“Any death is a tragedy and his family, loved ones, students, and colleagues continue to mourn his untimely passing,” said Suffolk District Attorney Kevin Hayden. “Based on a thorough and careful review of the evidence, however, we have determined that criminal charges are not warranted in connection with Dr. Jones’ death.”
The conclusions reached by the DA’s office and the State Police match what Jones’s wife believed happened. In a Facebook post on September 12, Sarah Sacuto said her husband went for a run and “accidentally accessed a flight of stairs near the JFK UMass Boston metro stop that was rusted through. He fell from 20 feet up and most likely died instantly.”The incident drew enormous attention, partly because of the mysterious circumstances but also because of a governmental blame-game that took place over whether the staircase should have been allowed to deteriorate in place for several years. The stairway had been blocked off for about 20 months when Jones fell from it. Fencing and a jersey barrier blocked access from the top at Columbia Road and fencing blocked access from the bottom at Old Colony Avenue.
The staircase was torn down by the Department of Transportation over a weekend in September. “We felt it was important to take it down,” said Gov. Charlie Baker.