A local 22-year-old whose death is being investigated over claims it might be related to tear gas exposure at a Columbus protest was at the rally two days before she died, according to preliminary autopsy records reviewed by the Dayton Daily News on Monday.
Those records say that on May 31, Sarah Grossman’s father notified the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office that his daughter was at a protest in Columbus on the evening of May 28 where she was “exposed to tear gas and pepper spray” that was “discharged by police as part of crowd control.”
On May 30, shortly after 10 p.m., she was was found nonresponsive by family members at their Centerville home and rushed by family to Sycamore Hospital in Miamisburg, where she arrived in cardiac arrest, preliminary autopsy records say. She died at the hospital shortly after that.
Grossman’s official cause of death remains under investigation and will likely not be done for several weeks, coroner’s office officials say.
The Dayton Daily News reviewed the coroner’s office records using a provision of Ohio Revised Code allowing media organizations to inspect preliminary autopsy records.
An emergency room nurse reported the death as a suspected overdose, but no toxicology screen has been completed to show drugs in her system. Her family denies any history of drug abuse, the records say.
The only medical condition mentioned in preliminary autopsy records is a peanut allergy. Her body showed no signs of lethal trauma, the records say.
Columbus officials say they are investigating the matter after rumors emerged on social media that a protester died after being tear gassed. But city officials said they had little information.
Notified by the Dayton Daily News that Grossman was allegedly at a protest on May 28, city spokeswoman Robin Davis said that “gives us more clarity.”
“Police did use gasses to disperse crowds that night. We haven’t received an official complaint, nor have investigators in Montgomery County talked to (Columbus police),” she said. “Again, we encourage anyone who was with her at the protest or on May 29 or 30 before she went to Sycamore to talk to Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office or (Columbus police).”
Grossman’s sister previously said in an online post that Sarah Grossman died possibly from respiratory issues from being exposed to tear gas while protesting the death of George Floyd. The post has since been edited to remove the reference to tear gas. Her sister has declined to comment until a official cause of death is determined.
News of her death has since been reported on news sites nationally and internationally.
It’s unclear where Sarah Grossman was at on May 28. Columbus-area media reports include video from that night of pepper spray being deployed at protesters, including students from Ohio State University.
Sarah Grossman graduated from Ohio State University on May 3. She was a 2016 graduate of Springboro High School.
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