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caption: Flowers are placed on the edge of the Drumheller Fountain on Thursday, February 7, 2019, on the University of Washington campus in Seattle.
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Flowers are placed on the edge of the Drumheller Fountain on Thursday, February 7, 2019, on the University of Washington campus in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

UW student who fell on campus died of natural causes, medical examiner says

The 19-year-old woman who fell and died on the University of Washington campus on Wednesday did not die from slipping on ice — she died from a pulmonary embolism, and the cause of death was natural, the King County Medical Examiner’s Office said on Thursday.

The woman was identified as Hayley Smith.

The pulmonary embolism stemmed from deep vein thrombosis, the medical examiner’s office said.

Given the icy conditions, and that the University of Washington had been closed the two days prior, people on social media lashed out at the university’s president for the condition of the sidewalks on campus.

Cliff Peng, who identified himself as Smith’s boyfriend (and who Smith identified as "being in a relationship" with on Facebook), wrote a social media post on a closed University of Washington forum about watching her fall in front of him:

“I saw it happen right in front of my own eyes,” Peng wrote. “We were just on our way from one class to the next. She told me to ‘wait a moment,’ to catch a breath and stepped off to the side to move way for others, and the next thing I knew, she was on the ground, broken glasses and blood all over.

“We call the emergency services right away. They tried their best to save her, her consciousness came and went until it finally faded away….

“I was on the call with her dad and he just kept repeating, ‘Was it true? What they said, was it true?’”

President Ana Marie Cauce said that she spoke with Smith's father as well.

"My heart is with her grieving family and friends and all who knew her," Cauce wrote in a campus-wide email.