USM student dies of ‘blunt force trauma’


On Feb. 11, USM student and Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity member Cole Whaley died of “blunt force injuries” at the DoubleTree hotel located at 300 Canal St. in New Orleans, according to Orleans Parish Coroner Jeffrey Rouse.

NOPD reports stated Whaley fell through a closed 11th- story window and landed in an outdoor area located on the fourth floor near the hotel pool.

“Findings from the autopsy performed by my office on Mr. Whaley reveal injuries consistent with reported circumstances including multiple skull fractures and subdural hemorrhage,” Rouse said.

According to Rouse, Whaley preliminary cause of death has been classified as ‘blunt force injuries.’ Whaley’s final cause of death is currently under investigation and is pending toxicology test results.

A spokeswoman for the the coroner’s office said New Orleans police had initially classified the death as unusual but later classified it as a Signal 29, or death.

Vice President for Student Affairs Tom Burke said students may contact his office at 601- 266-5020 for related assistance.

“Cole Whaley will forever be remembered as an intelligent, kind and valued member of the Southern Miss community,” Burke said. “As we all try to make sense of this tragic accident, the university will continue to do all that it can to support Cole’s Pi Kappa Phi brothers, his family and friends and all affected USM students.”

Funeral services for Whaley were held Feb. 15 at Spanish Fort United Methodist Church.