In Indian-American Student’s Death, Parents Accuse Cops Of Negligence

In Indian-American Student's Death, Parents Accuse Cops Of Negligence

Akul Dhawan’s parents are based in California. (File)

New York:

The parents of an 18-year-old student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) who was found dead last week with signs of hypothermia have filed a complaint against the school’s police department for negligence.

Akul B. Dhawan reportedly went missing last Saturday a little before 1:30 a.m. and was found dead almost 10 hours later on the back porch of a building near the university campus in west Urbana in the US state of Illinois.

His friend said he had been missing for about an hour, the USA Today cited the University of Illinois Police as saying.

While the exact cause of his death is under investigation by the campus police, the Illinois State Police and the Champaign County Coroner’s Office, said that preliminary findings of an autopsy performed on Tuesday showed signs of hypothermia.

“The preliminary findings showed no evidence of significant trauma,” said the Champaign County Coroner in a news release. “There was evidence of hypothermic skin changes. The final autopsy report is pending toxicology studies.”

University police also say that “preliminary information suggests that there was no wrongdoing, and the death is initially believed to be accidental”. An investigation is ongoing.

Illinois and much of the Midwest experienced brutal cold and freezing temperatures in the latter half of January, with wind chills dipping between -20 to -30 degrees.

Dhawan’s parents have accused the university’s police department of negligence and have filed a complaint against them over how the search was handled, according to The News-Gazette newspaper.

Ish Dhawan and Ritu Dhawan said on Wednesday that their son was found just 400 feet from where he was reported missing based on location-tracking data on their son’s phone.

“This is bizarre, that a kid is never found who was just less than a block, like one minute away, sitting there, dead, frozen to death,” Ish Dhawan told the newspaper.

“Imagine what’s going through in our mind as a dad and mom. I visualise every minute that my son froze to death on a university campus.” “We need answers,” his mother said. “What is the proof that they searched in this area, around the area they’re talking (about), this half-block? My kid would have been found.”

When Akul Dhawan was reported missing, university police searched where he was last seen, his residence hall and the likely path between the two locations, including the main Quad and streets, said the police.

Local hospitals were also checked, and the police attempted to reach the student via telephone. However, they were unable to locate him.

The next morning, shortly after 11 a.m., an employee of the university notified police and emergency medical services of “a man on the back porch of a building”. Police said that he was “deceased at the time he was found”.

Dhawan’s parents, based in California, said they met with top university officials while in the city. His uncle, Rishab Mehandru, told the media outlet that the family wants to know more about UI’s search policy so that no one else would have to endure the same pain as them.

Dhawan, who turned 18 in September, according to The News-Gazette, came to the University of Illinois’ Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering to study robotics despite his parent’s opposition, who wished him to be closer to home.

The University of Illinois did not immediately respond to USA TODAY’s request for information. PTI PY PY

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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