The University of Iowa Campus looking west from Old Capitol and the Pentacrest.

Witness describes Delta Chi formal balcony fall scene

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By Grace Pateras

grace-pateras@uiowa.edu

University of Iowa sophomore Claudia Magana said she was sitting on the same second-story balcony ledge as UI students Hannah Van Soelen and Mackenzie Wollenzien on April 23 when the two students fell backwards from the 39-inch-tall railing at the UI fraternity Delta Chi’s spring formal.

The incident occurred around 10:50 p.m., Magana said.

When Magana heard a female shouting the names of Van Soelen and Wollenzien, she said she ran around the wrap-around balcony of the house in Missouri and headed down the stairs.

Magana said she told someone to call 911.

While aiding the students, Magana said, she noticed blood on them when she moved the hair from their faces. Magana said she kneeled by Wollenzien while holding her limp hand.

“It was all so quick. My hands were shaking, I couldn’t even talk,” she said. “I didn’t know how to act, but I knew I was supposed to be there with her and tell her everything was going to be fine.

“I just know from past knowledge when someone is unconscious, you’re supposed to tap them and ask them if they’re OK, so that’s what I did.”

Then, a nursing student checked on Wollenzien’s pulse, Magana said.

Alongside Van Soelen was a member of Delta Chi — thought to be her boyfriend — who was crying and staying close by. Magana said many people were surrounding the two students.

Magana said that although she did not see exactly how the students fell, she was there for the impact. Meanwhile, some of the 30 to 40 others at the party went into panic mode, Magana said.

“I know before the police came everybody got rid of their alcohol, just because everyone thought they would search the house,” Magana said. “But I think their main concern was the girls, honestly.”

When the paramedics arrived, they loaded each student onto a stretcher, Magana said, recalling how both were disoriented during the incident. Onlookers were heard sobbing, covering their faces in shock, she said.

The students were taken to the emergency department at Lake Regional Hospital, officials from the Lake Ozark Fire Department said.

Debroah Wolfe, the media relations coordinator of the hospital, said both students were stabilized and discharged.

Possible reasons the students were not held there, Wolfe said, include they were healthy enough to be sent home or they were taken to a different hospital.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the nearest major hospitals in Missouri — the University of Missouri Hospitals and Clinics and the Boone Hospital Center in Columbia — have not named Van Soelen or Wollenzien as patients, officials from both hospitals said.

The current location of the students is unknown and cannot be discussed by Lake Regional or UI officials because of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, which protects the privacy and security of health information.

“The university’s primary concern is the welfare of the students,” said Jeneane Beck, UI assistant vice president for external relations. “Our focus is on assisting the families and learning more about the incident. It would be inappropriate to comment further until we have more information.”

Magana said she met Van Soelen the night before the incident while on a boat at the Lake of the Ozarks.

The main event was held on April 22, and Saturday was a day dedicated to soaking in the upper-80-degree weather, Magana said. The activities held that day included jumping in the lake, sitting by the beach, and eating lunch at a nearby restaurant, she said.

Magana said she didn’t see Van Soelen until late on the night of April 23.

After paramedics took both students away, Magana said, the environment changed, and people went back to their designated bedrooms in silence.

Two buses left Sunday morning, and Magana said the silence continued through the five-hour ride to Iowa City.

“I don’t even think I heard any conversation about the incident,” she said.

On Wednesday evening, The Daily Iowan tried to contact Tory Wolver, a friend and sorority sister of Wollenzien, to discuss the situation.

“You don’t need to know anything,” Wolver said in a direct message on Facebook. “You can contact our Executive Offices.”

The DI requested comment from Interfraternity Council President Austin Luse, who did not respond by press time.

UI Dean of Students officials have been in contact with the families of both women, Beck said.

Disclosure: The author of this story is involved in greek life at the UI.

Kendrew Panyanouvong contributed to this story and is also involved in UI greek life.

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