University student dies after accident

University student dies after accident by David Lias A University of South Dakota student died Saturday, May 8, after falling down a stairway inside a Vermillion residence.

Vermillion police and emergency medical technicians were called to 430 Prentis Avenue May 6, according to a press release from Police Chief Art Mabry, to respond to a medical emergency.

Officers determined that Johan Johnson, 22, had fallen down a stairway inside the residence and suffered significant injuries.

On Saturday, May 8, Johnson died at Sioux Valley Hospital in Sioux Falls.

"This is being investigated as an accidental death so far," Mabry said Monday. "There is no indication of any foul play."

Clay County State's Attorney Tami Bern said she also considered the matter an accident and was not pursuing charges against anyone.

Alcohol appears to have played a role in the death, Mabry said.

Johnson returned early Thursday morning to the multi-level house he rented on Prentis Avenue.

"(Johnson) was last seen in the house at 2:30 a.m. Thursday, and he was found at 8 a.m. Thursday at the bottom of the steps," Mabry said. "His two roommates thought he had just laid down and gone to sleep, so they moved him into his room.

"At about 1:30 p.m., when they couldn't wake him, they called for an ambulance. By that time, there was evidence of head injuries," the police chief added.

Johnson was taken to Sioux Valley Vermillion Hospital where he was admitted in critical condition, Mabry said. Johnson was then airlifted to Sioux Valley Hospital in Sioux Falls, where he died Saturday.

Johnson was born at Deadwood, grew up at Bushnell and graduated from Brookings High School in 2000. He was a quarterback on the football team and a member of the debate team, which received national runner-up honors at the Henry J. Kaiser National Forensic League tournament in Portland, OR.

He attended Augustana College in Sioux Falls for two years and was co-founder of the Green Party.

Johnson transferred to USD and was scheduled to graduate in December with a degree in political science, said Nathan Schock, the USD director of communications and media relations.

The USD community has focused on helping the Johnson family in any way possible, said Dave Lorenz, the USD dean of students.

"The university will support the family and let the students know our staff is available if they need to talk to someone for support," Lorenz said.

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