Cause of death still pending

One hundred days after suitemates found Andre Narcisse ’12 dead in his common room, and a week after the Connecticut State Medical Examiner’s Office said it would release the cause of his death, the results of the toxicology study are still unknown.

Last Monday, the Connecticut State Medical Examiner’s Office in Farmington, Conn., said results from Narcisse’s autopsy would be available in one week. But Monday, the office said the results were not yet available and said it had no estimate of when they would be released. John Sinard, vice-chairman of the state’s Committee on Medicolegal Investigations, which oversees the examiner’s office, said it is unusual for results to take so long.

Andre Narcisse ’12 at his graduation from Phillips Exeter Academy in 2008.
Vikas Velagapudi
Andre Narcisse ’12 at his graduation from Phillips Exeter Academy in 2008.

In November, Narcisse’s mother Jasmine told Newsday that not knowing how her son died worsens the pain of his loss.

“Everyone is in a state of limbo,” she told the newspaper. “The family will not have rest until we know.”

While the primary cause of death is known to be cardiac arrest, Sinard said, the autopsy results would indicate the secondary cause, or what caused the heart attack. But state officials are not required to release autopsy results, he said, only the death certificate, and with so much delay, it is unclear whether the secondary cause of death will remain permanently blank.

In November and December, the Medical Examiner’s Office said toxicology tests could take six to eight weeks to determine what caused Narcisse’s death. When eight weeks passed, an official at the office changed the estimate to 12 weeks. It has now been 14 weeks.

Sinard said that 90 percent of toxicology cases are resolved within 90 days. But he added that there could be many reasons for a further delay, including inadequate staffing, other priorities or simply the complex process of toxicology.

“It just naturally takes a long time,” he said. “You have to slowly narrow down the categories of substances or other causes.”

On Jan. 24., Narcisse’s family members and fellow students honored him in a memorial service in Battell Chapel. University Chaplain Sharon Kugler said the service had been delayed as friends and relatives waited for a definitive cause of death, which Kugler said she thought would be available in December. When December came and went and officials had still released no information, they decided to go ahead with the service, Kugler said. There was no mention of the circumstances surrounding Narcisse’s death at the memorial.

Comments

  • Y’10

    YDN – file a request under the Freedom of Information Act if it is public information and they will be obligated to turn over the results.

  • better idea

    learn what is your business and what isn’t. (hint: family tragedies fall in the latter category.)