Thank you for your interest in and support of the Valley News. We need to raise $60,000 to host journalists Frances Mize and Alex Driehaus for their one-year placements in the Upper Valley through Report for America, a national service program that boosts local news by harnessing community support.

Please consider donating to this effort.

Details emerge on Dartmouth women’s rugby player seriously injured in fall from frat house roof

  • Isabella Huschitt is introduced with her Dartmouth College rugby teammates before their game against LIU on Sept. 1, 2021. Huschitt was paralyzed after falling from a fraternity roof on May 15, 2022. (Courtesy of GoFundMe, Bella's Medical Bills) Courtesy of GoFundMe, Bella's Medical Bills

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 8/11/2022 11:02:57 PM
Modified: 8/13/2022 1:49:51 AM

HANOVER — A member of Dartmouth College’s women’s rugby team suffered serious injury in May when she fell from a fraternity house roof, as detailed in a Hanover Police Department report obtained by the Valley News this week.

On May 15, Isabella Huschitt climbed out a bathroom window and fell to the ground below at Gamma Delta Chi, located at 30 N. Main St., and across from Kemeny Hall.

Huschitt’s fall “broke her spine and left her paralyzed from the waist down” wrote teammate Lily Waddell on a GoFundMe page seeking to defray Huschitt’s medical expenses.

The same page states that Huschitt, a sophomore who attended high school in Milwaukee, Wis., spent two weeks at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, including an initial week in the intensive care unit. She was expected to be moved to Boston’s Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, wrote Waddell, who did not respond to email messages seeking comment.

Dartmouth football players make up much of Gamma Delta Chi’s membership. Statements by two players, Zion Carter and Marquist Allen, a junior and a sophomore at the time, are included in the report, obtained Thursday by the Valley News.

Rick Bender, Dartmouth’s sports information director, referred a May 31 inquiry to Susan Boutwell in the college’s office of communications. Boutwell emailed back that day that Dartmouth would have no comment on the matter. Neither Boutwell nor Diana Lawrence, associate vice president for communications, responded to Thursday emails.

A Thursday request to Bender for interviews with women’s rugby coach Katie Dowty, Carter, Allen and football coach Buddy Teevens went unanswered. Dowty did not respond to emails in June and July.

The police report, written by Lt. Matthew Ufford, describes a response to Gamma Delta Chi at 12:53 a.m. May 15.

“We arrived and noted a large crowd in the street, sidewalks and front yard of the house,” Ufford wrote. He described discovering Huschitt lying on the ground and being held still by others, shortly before medical personnel arrived.

“Officer (Joseph) Landry and I cleared the front yard of beer cans, cups and other party-related debris for the stretcher,” Ufford wrote, noting the roof from which Huschitt fell projects out over the second-story windows on the house’s front. The fraternity was subsequently cited for prohibited sales of alcohol, according to the police report.

Ufford estimated the roof’s height at 25-30 feet and described meeting Carter, the fraternity’s self-described “risk manager,” and Allen, who had been working the front door during the party.

Allen, wrote Ufford, was at his post and beneath the third-story overhang when he saw Huschitt fall to the ground, landing on her side and remaining in that position. Carter, who called 911, and Allen told Ufford they did not know Huschitt.

Huschitt “said she had been in the third-floor bathroom and climbed out onto the roof of the porch,” Ufford wrote. “She said ... she slipped and fell off the roof.” The officer wrote he later discovered that senior Sarah Korb, one of Huschitt’s rugby teammates, was also on the roof.

The report goes on to briefly describe a May 17 phone call from Ufford to Huschitt’s mother, Katie, in which the latter told the officer that “she has heard multiple versions of what may or may not have taken place when Isabella fell from the roof.”

The report described Ufford returning to the fraternity on May 18. In the bathroom, he observed “wood framing on the interior of the window with blocks on each side to prevent the window from fully opening. I was told by members ... that this was purposefully added.”

Ufford continued that fraternity members told him Huschitt and Korb were in the bathroom and locked the door from the inside as a practical joke before exiting through the window. However, their attempt to re-enter the building by another window was thwarted upon finding it locked. They turned back toward the bathroom window and Huschitt fell.

Ufford concluded his report by writing that he had spoken to Katie Huschitt, the injured student’s mother, several times after his first call and that she stated her daughter would call the officer to discuss the incident.

“As of July 19, 2022, I still have not received that phone call,” Ufford wrote. “It does not appear that any criminal activity had taken place during this incident.”

A June 18 post on the site Caring Bridge, designed to update a patient’s relatives and friends, displays a photo of Huschitt using a wheelchair at what appears to be a retail store. She’s wearing sunglasses, a surgical mask and her torso is encased in plastic bracing.

The accompanying text by a poster identified as Kathleen Barczak describes Huschitt as “making great progress here in Boston” and using crutches and braces to take several steps per day. Plans called for Huschitt to return to Wisconsin in “the next couple weeks,” the post said.

“Obviously, the mental part of all this is the biggest challenge right now for Bella,” Barczak wrote. “They are just continuing to ask for prayers for strength and encouragement for her!”

Dartmouth’s women’s rugby team has won two national championships in the past three years and is one of the college’s most successful team sports.

Huschitt is not the first Dartmouth athlete to be seriously injured in a fall this summer. David Gallagher, a former lacrosse player and member of the Class of 2020 in town for its delayed graduation ceremony, died from his injuries after first responders found him severely injured under Ledyard Bridge early Sunday morning, the Hanover fire and police departments said in a joint news release Monday.

Officials, who were still investigating the cause of Gallagher’s fall earlier this week, said he was found on a rocky embankment on the New Hampshire side of the bridge. Former teammate Jack Richardson described it as a “freak accident” but declined to say more.

Huschitt is also not the first Dartmouth women’s varsity athlete seriously injured in a fall from the third story of an on-campus fraternity house. In 2011, junior ice hockey player Geneva Kliman tumbled from the roof of Alpha Delta, located on Wheelock Street and across from Alumni Gym.

Kliman sat out what would have been her senior season with the Big Green but graduated in 2012 with a psychology degree and later played as a graduate student at Wilfred Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario.

“I had to get facial reconstructive surgery, and I just suffered a big concussion,” Kliman later told The Cord, Wilfred Laurier’s student newspaper. Her LinkedIn page shows she received a master’s degree in social psychology and now works as a myofunctional therapist, dealing with problems related to a patient’s oral and facial muscles.

Tris Wykes can be reached at twykes@vnews.com.




Valley News

24 Interchange Drive
West Lebanon, NH 03784
603-298-8711

 

© 2021 Valley News
Terms & Conditions - Privacy Policy