Villanova student died of alcohol poisoning

Posted: October 09, 2013

VILLANOVA The 18-year-old Villanova University student whose body was found in her dormitory room three days into the semester in August died of alcohol poisoning, according to the Delaware County medical examiner.

Kinara Patel, a sophomore from Hackensack, N.J., was found Aug. 29 inside her Sullivan Hall dorm room after spending a night with friends in Bryn Mawr, according to police.

Villanova spokesman Jonathan Gust would not say if university officials knew where Patel had been drinking. He directed questions about the investigation to Radnor police, who also declined to provide more details Monday.

"We want to make sure everything's tightened up before we go releasing any information," Lt. Chris Flanagan said.

The medical examiner, whose office released autopsy results Sunday, has declined to disclose Patel's blood-alcohol content at the time of her death.

Each year, between 1,300 and 1,400 college students die from alcohol-related injuries, including alcohol poisoning and car crashes, according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

As at many major campuses, student drinking has been a concern at Villanova. On weekend nights in Lower Merion Township, where many of the university's students gather regularly, police arrest drunk students as they stumble out of house parties or Lancaster Avenue bars. In 2012, the police there made 290 arrests for underage drinking, according to the township's public information officer.

"Alcohol abuse and underage drinking is a growing national problem for college students, and Villanova recognizes those issues and we're committed to educating our students about the effects of alcohol," Gust said, adding that education begins even before students get to campus.

He called Patel's death a devastating loss for "people that knew her and many others who didn't."

Experts say alcohol-poisoning fatalities on campuses are declining because of better student education and adoption of amnesty policies that allow students to seek help for friends without fearing retribution if they are intoxicated themselves.

"Fewer and fewer students are saying, 'Let's put them on the couch and they can sleep it off.' They're being trained to say, 'This is serious,' " said David Arnold of the Bacchus Network, a national nonprofit focused on the health of college students.

Villanova adopted a medical amnesty policy in 2012.

Some students say the university's strict alcohol policy drives students to party off campus. Senior Sam White said the hefty consequences encourage unsafe practices such as drinking quickly to avoid getting caught with alcohol on campus. He said that if students feel pressured to leave campus to drink, they are likelier to drive drunk to avoid paying for a cab home.



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