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Questions arise over death of UGA student | News

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Questions arise over death of UGA student
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Questions arise over death of UGA student

ATHENS, GA (WXIA) – UGA students, and friends of Michael McClary of Decatur, are grieving.

Wednesday night, they held a small memorial at his campus dorm, Reed Hall. And they are asking questions as police investigate McClary's death -- about whether emergency personnel could have and should have reacted faster to try to save his life.

Friends spoke warmly of the 19 year old they called "Big Mike," who always made them laugh. He died in the back seat of a 2002 Lincoln Continental, in UGA's East Campus Parking Deck early Saturday morning, some time after others drove him there from a party they attended Friday night.

One possibility police are investigating is whether McClary might have died of alcohol poisoning. The first officer on the scene said he noticed a strong odor of alcohol on McClary, and McClary had been vomiting. But officers are waiting for additional test results to arrive from the GBI crime lab before they rule on the cause of death.

Nafisat Anjorin is the person who called 911. She is a UGA student, and she had just pulled into the parking deck herself when one of McClary's friends asked her for help.

Anjorin says after she called 911, the ambulance took 30 minutes to get to him, and she says it wasn't until nearly an hour after her call when the ambulance took him to the hospital. By then, it was too late to save him.

"I made the phone call at about 2:03 in the morning," she said, "and [the ambulance] didn't show up or get there until after about 2:30.... So we were all just sitting outside -- where's the ambulance, where's the firefighters, you know -- and it just took too long."

Anjorin has asked the Student Senate to urge the University to investigate the response times, and take action.

11Alive News obtained the police reports, and talked with National EMS, the ambulance service which serves Athens-Clarke County, and is headquartered in Conyers.

According to that official timeline:

At 2:07 a.m. the first police officer was dispatched to what he thought was a "person intoxicated," and he arrived at 2:08.

He said he found McClary in the back seat of the parked car, face down on his stomach -- a large man, nearly 400 pounds-- and the officer said he was trying to turn him over.

At 2:16, the ambulance arrived at the parking deck's entrance, but stayed there because the ambulance was too tall to fit inside the parking deck.

At 2:17 the officer called for police backup

At 2:18 he was able to begin CPR

At 2:21 the EMS personnel, on foot, arrived at the car and began CPR, and administered multiple defibrillations to try to restart McClary's heart

At 2:33 a second ambulance arrived at the parking deck

At about 2:51 the ambulance took McClary to the hospital where he was declared dead a few minutes later.

UGA Police Chief Jimmy Williamson says he is aware of the students' concerns about the response times, but he says that right now he's not seeing any way anyone could have reacted faster.

"Every second should have made, would have made a difference," Anjorin said. "Had they gotten there faster, maybe things would have been different."

One of the officers on the scene reported that he asked people gathered around the car how long McClary had been in that condition, and he said someone answered about 30 minutes -- so there are also questions about whether McClary's friends could have, or should have, called 911 before Anjorin did.

UGA police detectives are interviewing those who had been with McClary in the hours before his death, and reviewing the 911 recordings and surveillance video from the parking deck, as part of the investigation into how Michael McClary died.

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