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IU Student’s Death Raises Questions About ‘Lifeline’ Law

Rachael Fiege's friends did not call the police for several hours after she fell down a flight of stairs.

Rachael Fiege

Photo: Courtesy Photo

Rachael Fiege, 19, was a Zionsville native where she played soccer for the Zionsville High School Lady Eagles.

The death of a 19-year-old Indiana University Bloomington freshman raises questions about whether a newly-passed law aimed at encouraging minors to seek medical attention for their intoxicated friends is fulfilling its goal.

Zionsville native Rachael Fiege died Saturday after falling down a flight of stairs at an off-campus house Friday, IU Police Department officials confirm.

An IUPD statement indicates police were called to the house on North Park Avenue just before 8 a.m. Friday to find Fiege unconscious and not breathing.

The Indianapolis Star reports Fiege’s friends waited about six hours after she fell before calling the police, but police officials do not expect charges to be filed.

“Our investigation has led to everything being accidental,” said Interim Chief Laury Flint.

It’s unclear if alcohol was involved, she said, though there was alcohol available in the house. A toxicology report is pending.

Flint said it appeared Fiege’s friends were aware of life-line laws that would have allowed them to call emergency services without fear of arrest. She believes they did not call for help because they did not realize the extent of Fiege’s injuries.

As we’ve reported, the Indiana Lifeline Law, which went into effect last year, allows minors to seek medical attention for others who have drunk too much without fear of being charged for underage drinking themselves.

The law was the brain-child of the Indiana University’s Student Association and an attempt to prevent students from a situation where they might need to decide to protect their friend or themselves.

Fiege planned to study pre-nursing.

Gretchen Frazee

Gretchen Frazee is a reporter/producer for WFIU and WTIU news. Prior to her current role, Frazee worked as the associate online content coordinator for WFIU/WTIU. She graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia where she studied multimedia journalism and anthropology. You can follow her on Twitter @gretchenfrazee.

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  • Michael Biggs

    Since she played soccer, she has traumatic brain injury, as all soccer players who practice headers (all except goalies) have. She and her roommates didn’t know that any head trauma on top of her previous injuries (from heading hundreds if not thousands of heavy soccer balls) could be deadly.

  • doughpro

    And we really think that a law is going to automatically give drunken idiot college kids more common sense or any sense at all? They’re drunk, for God’s sake.

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