Authorities unsure why woman fell to her death inside downtown monument

(WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Authorities are trying to determine what caused a Kokomo woman to fall inside the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument in downtown Indianapolis Saturday. Police said 44-year-old Jennifer Civitarese died after the fall.

It happened Saturday evening around 5:30. Police say an autopsy was performed Monday morning, but the results have not been released. It should determine if Civitarese died as a result of injuries from the fall, or if there was some kind of medical issue that caused her to fall.

State police say this is the first time they’ve responded to anything this serious at the monument.

The Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument stands almost 285 feet tall.

“You go from side to side and you’re seeing layers and different levels of statues, carvings, bronze; it’s intriguing. You could sit and look for the longest time,” Kathleen Flanagan, who is visiting from North Carolina, said of the monument.

It’s a tourist attraction where there’s no shortage of photos. But what happened Saturday evening is far from picture perfect for one family.

“It appears that they were just here visiting looking at the sites and, unfortunately, the evening took a very tragic event for that family,” Indiana State Police Sgt. John Perrine said.

Authorities say Civitarese was inside the monument with her family when she fell while walking down steps.

“It appeared that she just fell. There was no clear explanation and the investigation, hopefully, will lead us to why she would’ve fallen. But, at this point it appears she just fell,” Perrine explained.

Witnesses told police that Civitarese fell down about eight steps onto a landing. Authorities pronounced her dead at the scene.

“It’s a horrible thing. It really is. It’s horrible for the city, too, because it puts sort of a dark cloud over it, so to speak,” Liz Muths, who is visiting from Texas, said.

Officials closed down the inside of the monument for the rest of Saturday and Sunday. But they allowed tourist to visit the outdoor portion of it during the busy Big 10 Tournament weekend.

“I don’t believe it’s unsafe here. I think that this was just a tragic accident. A very unfortunate thing that happened,” Perrine said.

Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument is expected to re-open at its regular time Friday morning at 10:30.

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