David K Jones died Saturday after he fell 20 feet from a rusted staircase near the JFK UMass Boston metro stop. The Boston University professor was on a run when he accidentally accessed the staircase, which had been closed for more than a year. He then slipped through a gap in the stairs before plummeting to his death.
Jones was an associate professor of health law, policy, and management at the School of Public Health at Boston University. He was a beloved colleague, teacher, and friend, according to a string of statements from students and fellow professors.
Authorities said that the rusted MBTA Commuter Rail staircase had been closed for 20 months. A series of social media posts from the MBTA warned pedestrians and passengers from climbing them, claiming their poor condition was dangerous. It was reported that both entrances to the broken stairs were fenced off. It’s unclear how David K Jones accidentally accessed them.
The rusted stairs led to the Red Line station, an official report claimed. Fallen steps were discovered on the ground beneath the stairs but authorities did not clarify when the steps came loose. Jones’ death is still under investigation by the Massachusetts state police, a statement from agency spokesperson David Procopio confirmed.
In the statement, it was revealed that David K. Jones’ body was discovered by a passerby shortly before 1:30 p.m. Saturday. Troopers then responded to the area near the JFK MBTA station a few minutes later. An initial investigation “revealed that Mr. Jones was laying on the ground under a stairway.”
Procopio added that troopers “observed a gap in the stairs above the victim, who had already been determined to be deceased. Preliminary investigation revealed that the stairs had been deemed unsafe and closed for approximately 20 months.”
David K Jones was a husband and father of three. Suffolk County District Attorney Rachel Rollins said that “whether accidental or intentional, any death is a tragedy and the harm to loved ones is the same.” She continued, saying that “while the investigation is ongoing, we are available to offer his family support and connect them to community resources through our victim witness assistance program.”
In a post honoring her husband, Jones’ wife, Sarah Sacuto, wrote that “my beloved husband David left for his long run yesterday and never returned. He accidentally accessed a flight of stairs near the JFK UMass Boston metro stop that was rusted through. He fell from 20 feet up and most likely died instantly.”
“The void he leaves behind is unspeakable,” she admitted in the post. “He was the most loving, kind, considerate person I knew. He was the best father. He loved to dance to Phish, be outdoors, and run. He loved unconditionally and was the proudest father to his kids. I loved him.”
Sacuto continued, claiming that “this is likely the hardest thing we will go through as a family. Please take a minute and remember him to us- as we must go on carrying the light he gave us. We will draw strength from your memories as we travel through the darkest of times.”
Chris Louis, one of David K Jones’ colleagues at the School of Public Health, said that they worked together researching states’ varying health issues. Louis claimed Jones had “a wonderful theoretical and practical mind—a skill that is not often found.”
In a statement from Boston University, the school explained that “our community is mourning the loss of David Jones, an associate professor of public health who was passionate about using his research to inform public policy.”
It was reported that David K Jones joined the School of Public Health in 2014. He has since “been an exemplary member of [the] community,” according to the school’s dean, Sandro Galea. He was the founding Editor-in-Chief of the Public Health Post and was awarded AUPHA’s John D. Thompson Prize for Young Investigators, among prestigious awards.
According to Dean Sandro Galea, Jones was someone who “cared deeply about bridging research and policy and conducted work in places as far as France and the Mississippi Delta. And above all, was a wonderful human being, living with integrity and a deep commitment to all we do.”
A GoFundMe Page has since raised over $97,000 for the family. In the post on the page, Sarah Lipson, who organized the fundraiser, wrote that “our most wonderful colleague and friend David Jones passed away on Saturday, Sept. 11 in an accident. David was beloved beyond words. This [GoFundMe] page has been set up to raise money to support David’s wife, Sarah, and his three children, Olivia, Anne, and Thomas.”