Mother Dies in North Carolina Fall Accident From Dorm Bunk Bed While Visiting Daughter at UNC-Chapel Hill

September 13, 2010, by Michael A. DeMayo

The mother of a 19-year-old UNC-Chapel Hill student died last month from a fatal head injury she sustained during a fall from her daughter’s dorm room bunk bed. The bed did not have safety rails. Donna Sykes was 49.

Donna was reportedly helping her daughter Jesse, who has cerebral palsy, adjust to dorm life. Jesse did not have a roommate.

According to campus officials, students have the option of elevating the beds anywhere from three inches off the ground to close to 6 ½ feet when they move into a dorm room. The beds don’t come with rails, but students can request them. Now, however, school officials are considering making the bed rails a requirement. Since Donna’s Chapel Hill fall accident, the university has received dozens of requests for the optional attachments.

According to the, one college junior, Matt Wilding, says that his bed became wobbly and unstable when he tried to elevate it to the highest height possible at the beginning of the semester. He ended up lowering the bed almost a foot so that it was raised enough that he could fit his desk and fridge underneath. Wilding says he wasn’t even aware that bedrails were an option.

According to housing director Larry Hicks, Donna Sykes’ death was the first one resulting from a bunk bed fall at the university and that in the last decade, only a handful of students have been hurt in North Carolina fall accidents from the dorm beds. Safety consultant Mark Briggs says, also in, that most fall accidents from dorm bunk beds happen because students were playing around, drunk, or having sex.

North Carolina Fall Accidents

If you or someone you love was injured in a North Carolina fall accident on someone else’s property, you may have grounds for a Chapel Hill, North Carolina personal injury case if negligence on the premise owner’s party contributed to allowing the accident to happen. If a defective or poorly designed product was involved, you also may have grounds for a North Carolina products liability case against a manufacturer.

Fall accidents—especially ones from elevated heights, can cause broken bones, spinal cord injuries, traumatic brain injuries, and even wrongful death.

UNC fields bedrail requests after deadly fall from bunk, NewsObserver, September 11, 2010

Woman’s fatal fall from dorm bunk prompts calls for bed rails, WBTV/WTVM, September 10, 2010

Related Web Resources:
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Head Injury, emedicinehealth


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