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Ohio State University Campus Tradition Faces Ban After Fatality

Ohio State University wants to ban a campus tradition after a student died during this week's event.

Thousands of football fans jump into frigid Mirror Lake days before the hometown Buckeyes play arch-rivals Michigan each year.

Image: Austin Singletary
Third-year student Austin Singletary died after being pulled out of Mirror Lake early Wednesday morning. WCMH via Buckeye Civic Engagement Connection

Third-year student Austin Singletary was pulled from the water on the Columbus campus at around 12:20 a.m. Wednesday and later died in hospital, the university said.

The event is essentially a large outdoor party with some students wearing costumes and others little at all.

"We are heartbroken over this horrible tragedy," Ohio State University President Michael V. Drake said in a statement. He said counseling services would be available.

The Franklin County Coroner ruled that Singletary died of a broken neck, NBC affiliate WCMH reported.

While OSU provides safety measures, such as barriers and wristbands, it says it does not encourage students to take the icy plunge.

The university's guidelines remind people they "may be subject to any number of foreseeable and unforeseeable dangers, risks and serious injuries," and advises jumpers against drinking alcohol, which "significantly affects judgment and reaction and accelerates the effects of hypothermia."

The death of Singletary — who was from Dayton, Ohio — prompted OSU to release a statement saying the event should be scrapped.

"In spite of significant efforts taken to make this event a safer one, this tragedy has occurred," it said. "We must come together and acknowledge that while this is a student-led tradition that has been passed down through the years, we cannot risk another tragedy."

The statement added that the "university leadership strongly agrees that we will work with our campus community to end this annual event."

Ohio State will play Michigan on Saturday.