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BU Professor David Jones Dies After Falling Through Rusted Out Stairs While On Run

BOSTON (CBS) – A Boston University professor from Milton was killed over the weekend when his family says he fell through a rusted out flight of stairs while on a run in Dorchester.

David Jones' wife wrote in a Facebook post that he was out for a run when he "accidentally accessed a flight of stairs" near the JFK/UMass Boston MBTA stop.

The stairs were rusted through and Jones fell about 20 feet to the ground. Police said the incident happened Saturday around 1:30 p.m. The 40-year-old's body was found under the stairs by a passerby who called police.

Massachusetts State Police said the stairs had been deemed unsafe and had been closed for about 20 months. A jersey barrier and chain link fence blocked the top entrance to Columbia Road.

"How could you not see a hole that big going up the stairs or down the stairs? I don't know, it's sad," said Richard Saunders, who lives near the dilapidated staircase where it happened.

He said crews added more fencing to the sides and midsection of the staircase, and added "danger" signs at the bottom entrance after the fatal fall. Crews were back Monday night adding a taller fence at the top entrance.

The MBTA said the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation is in charge of maintaining the stairs. When WBZ asked a DCR spokesperson if and when the stairs are scheduled for repair, they did not respond.

"The conditions speak for itself. I mean they're basically disintegrating underneath us," said Genesia Eddins, who passes the staircase often. "I would like to think that it would get some immediate attention so that it doesn't reoccur."

Boston University is planning a memorial service for Jones some time next week.

"He was so excited to be back in class, to be back with students," said Dean of Boston University School of Public Health Sandro Galea. "David was a really wonderful human being… a kind generous thoughtful scholar, mentor, teacher." The school is planning a memorial gathering for students, colleagues, and families next week.

Kate Conquest is Jones' former student and teaching assistant. "I feel like he is what you hope your grad school professors will be, and what a few of them are," Conquest said. "He made time for everyone and believed in us."

David Jones
Professor David Jones. (Photo credit: Boston University)

Gov. Charlie Baker at a news conference Monday called Jones' death "a terrible tragedy."

"There's an investigation going on at this point in time and I want to let that investigation proceed before we comment more on it," Baker said. "Obviously I feel terrible for him, for his family and for all his colleagues and his students."

The Suffolk County District Attorney's office is investigating Jones' death.

"We continue to look at how Dr. Jones accessed a stairway that had been closed for some 20 months," said DA Rachael Rollins. "Whether accidental or intentional, any death is a tragedy and the harm to loved ones is the same. While the investigation is ongoing, we are available to offer his family support and connect them to community resources through our victim witness assistance program."

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