UPDATED — Man Dies After Accidental Plunge

by ARLnow.com May 26, 2010 at 5:28 pm 3,764 33 Comments

A man was killed this afternoon when he fell nearly four stories off the ledge of an elevated apartment terrace onto a concrete driveway below. Police are still investigating the incident but preliminary reports suggest the fall was accidental, according to Arlington Police spokesperson Det. Crystal Nosal.

It happened just before 4:00 this afternoon at The Prime at Arlington Courthouse apartments (1415 North Taft Street). There were several witnesses who gave statements to police.

A nurse who was near by reportedly tried giving CPR to the man, who was bleeding and unconscious. His body was later taken to a local hospital.

The man was walking several dogs at the time of the incident. It’s not known what role, if any, that may have played in the accident. The dogs are now in the custody of animal welfare officials.

Several people who have commented on this story say the man fell from the apartment complex’s dog park.

One person wrote: “The ledge back there in the fenced-in off-leash area is not very tall, it really could be an accident. Horrible.”

Update at 12:45 p.m. on 5/27 — Police have identified the victim as 29-year-old Arlington resident John Christopher Hamilton.

The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is investigating a death that occurred on Wednesday, May 26, 2010.

At approximately 3:50 p.m., police and medics responded to the 1400 block of N. Taft Street for a man who had fallen from a roof terrace. The victim was transported to a local hospital where he succumbed to injuries from the fall. He has been identified as John Christopher Hamilton, 29, of Arlington.

The preliminary investigation indicates the victim was attempting to step over a low railing on a rooftop terrace when he fell to the street below.

Anyone who has information about this incident is asked contact Detective Rosa Ortiz at (703) 228-7402. Det. Ortiz can also be contacted via e-mail at [email protected]

  • Odd

    Really weird. Did the dogs fall too? If not, did he let go of the leashes before falling? Or what?

    • The dogs were unharmed. We’ll likely learn more about what happened in the next 12-24 hours as police release more information about the investigation.

  • tentimesodds

    This is where I live. Awful tragedy. I haven’t been home yet but I’ve heard the garage entrance is blocked by police tape. The ledge back there in the fenced-in off-leash area is not very tall, it really could be an accident. Horrible.

  • jn87

    I live right above the dog park and got home after it happened. The dogs were running around alone and the animal welfare people came and took them. The cops took pictures of everything. The garage is still blocked due to the blood. This is really a tragedy.

  • Todd

    We’ve been to this park once and it certainly crossed my mind that the fence/barrier on the side of the building was too low – although I thought it would likely be a dog that accidentally jumped over and not someone else. Definitely should be closed until improvements can be made. Don’t know if the park already had a name but maybe it should be named in memory of this victim.

  • arlingtonian

    It should be said that this is not a public dog park, but private property, intended only to be used by residents of the Prime.

    RIP, terrible tragedy

    • Neighbor

      Why would having the park only avaiable to residents have saved this incident? The fence is so low it could of accidently happened to anyone. This is really sad and the fact that residents are complaining the park should of been just for them shows how selfish they are.

      • arlingtonian

        It depends on who the person was. If this is a resident of the building, or a dog walker who works for residents of the building, then nothing would have changed. If the man who fell wasn’t supposed to be there, then maybe properly preventing the public from using the area would have saved a life. I don’t see how that’s selfish at all.

        It absolutely could have happened to anyone, but people who live there know about the fence and the drop to the garage entrance below. Maybe someone who doesn’t live there doesn’t know about it, who knows. The area is overrun with trespassers and obviously it was dangerous enough that someone got hurt.

      • Lorelai

        Calm down and take a second to read the post again. No one said the park should only be for residents because it already is only for residents. The park is completely enclosed by the apartment buildings; there is no way in except via the building. And no one said the park’s exclusivity had anything to do with the incident. People tend to look for someone to blame after tragedies like this and the city of Arlington is not going to want to take primary responsibility when this didn’t happen in a public space.

        • Todd

          I just want to clarify that the park is accessible without entering the buildings – there’s a direct path to it from the small parking lot off of Taft Street. If this park was to be used only by residents – there, unfortunately, were no signs to indicate this. The park in fact seems to be very inviting as a public place – similar to the Odyssey building just another block down the street. Regardless I hope they will make immediate modifications to prevent something like this from occurring again – and I will indeed keep his family in my thoughts.

          • arlingtonian

            Did you really think this was public property, regardless of the signs? Do you think the courtyard at the Odyssey is public property? Haven’t you seen signs at all public dog parks that are put up by the County?

            That said, Neighbor is not wrong in saying that this could happen to anyone, and a dangerous situation is a dangerous situation, regardless of who is there.

      • jn87

        It really doesn’t matter if the park is for the apartment complex or public, the railings have always been way too low. My apartment overlooks the dog park and we always said it was dangerous. I really hope they put new railings in because this was such a terrible tragedy and I hope it doesn’t happen again.

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  • Aliya

    My husband and I live in this building and take our dog to this park at least twice a day, sometimes more. We are both weary of that railing and never stand too close to it because of the reason that the bars are too short.. They really only come up above the average waistline. It’s awful that this happened and sad that this tragedy is what it’s probably going to take to make the railing higher.

    • The youg man was my cousin and I would like to take a moment and thank all of you for your kind words and yes an unbelievable tragedy as all of us, his family are devesatated. Please say prayers for him as he was/is a kind soul and we will miss him very much. May God take care of him. We already miss him so very much.

      • Lisa

        Open the gates of heaven and bask in its glory
        of love and heavenly music. RIP.

      • Elizabeth

        You and your family (and the dogs too) are in my prayers. I am so very sorry for your loss. Just terrible.

      • K Farley

        Matt, I knew Chris at FSU and he was an amazing person. I was so shocked when I heard about this. My heart goes out to you, his family, and his loved ones. He is already missed by many.

      • Erin Tierney

        This is my cousin. My heart is breaking especially for his mother, my aunt Hookey. I am praying for her and asking blessings of angels to accompany her. All I can do is send my love and prayers….it is impossible and so sad. Blessings and love to you all…

  • resident

    Postive thoughts to his friends and family (and those who witnessed it and tried to save him) and also to the pups. I hope they link up with their owners soon. And, I hope that the railing is reconstructed so that it is a more secure place for those who use it.

  • Thes

    The developer of the project made an agreement with the County that the plaza area would be open to the public during daylight hours. Site plan #271.

  • Katie

    How terrible. I’m very sorry for your family’s loss, Matt Chandler.

    • arlingtonian

      Amen. This young man’s family is in my prayers.

    • Thank you Katie so very much.

  • I, one more time, as Christopher’s (john) cousin, thank all of you for the kind words. He was truly one of the kindest, most sincere, loving young man you would ever want to meet. Please know that whether the railing was too low, tresspassing or anything else is beyond insignificant compared to the loss of an angel on earth. Again, thank you all, God bless you and God bless Christopher. Hey Christopher, I will never forget the “night” in Virginia. I will never forget you, my friend.

  • Chris was a patron of our club night in Jacksonville, Florida from time to time. He was an amazing person who contributed immeasurably to his scene. He will be missed by all the many people whose lives he touched and enriched. Farewell comrade, we were all blessed to have known you.

    • neska

      he was a friend, and an occasional patron at the club where i spin in baltimore where he had close friends. my understanding is that he was a local but this was his first time at this particular dog park. he was a TALL man, and attempting to retrieve a toy lost his balance and fell. he was a wonderful, joyful individual whose loss will be felt for years in many cities. i do sincerely hope that the situation with the railings is corrected so that no more people feel this kind of loss

  • Chris’s Neighbor

    Chris was our neighbor for the last four years and only in the last few months did we start to get to know him. We are truly blessed that we got to know him beyond just being neighbors and we regret not having done it sooner.

    To Matt – please let your family know we are truly sorry and we wish to help in anyway we can. We are in the apartment immediately to the left of their door.

    The last time I saw Chris was Sunday morning in our stairwell. He was commenting on how he had slept right through a heavy downpour the previous night. May he continue to rest in peace and his family and friends will be in our thoughts and prayers.

    • Thank you so much. I will be sure to pass the information on to his Mother. I am sure she would like to speak to you. Thank you again.

  • Andy Grose

    Chris was a friend of my wife and I when we lived in Tallahassee, FL. We all went to the same clubs down there, and loved the same kind of music. We were so thrilled when we found out he moved up here and we were able to hang out with him again. He introduced me to a lot of good music and he was a great guy. We will miss him, as will all of his good friends from Tallahassee. RIP, Chris.

  • Elizabeth Repass Hollida

    To Chris’ family, fiance, and friends;

    I am deeply, deeply saddened by this news. I want to take proper time and thought to write something for Chris/everyone, but I also wanted to comment on here, as I see many of those close to Chris are doing the same.

    I also have no idea what to say.

    I agree that Chris was one of the kindest, most pure and gentle people I have ever had the privilege of calling my friend. We sat together in Astronomy class at FSU…him with his awesome style, Lara in her corsets and Victorian attire, me in my fairy wings…(?).

    We explored campus from time to time, we frequented the same coffee shops and clubs. I only wish I’d had the chance to know him more.

    The last vivid memory I have of Chris is hanging out with him and Sarah in St. Augustine and getting invited to see his mother’s amazing house. I remember our conversation was uplifting and free-flowing; we went to a coffee shop downtown and walked around the old parts of the city. He was one of those people who you are always friends with, no matter how little or how much you actually speak, comment on Facebook, or see one another.

    The second to last memory I have of Chris was walking around campus with him and Lara at one point, possibly in 2000 or 2001, and stopping at the outdoor amphitheater that I hadn’t even known existed on campus. We talked and laughed, and it was great.

    I now wish my memory wasn’t quite so foggy.

    Again, to Matt, to his fiance, to his entire family, my heart goes out to you. Chris was amazing. Thank you for aiding in making him who he was/is.

    If it wouldn’t be too much to ask, can you please post on here (or email me–[email protected]) when you have any information on memorial services, etc.

    I am so sorry for your/everyone’s loss. Please let me know if I can help in any way.

    So much love to you all,

    Liz Repass Hollida

  • neska

    hugs and love to all of you who are missing chris today


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