Indian-American Student Death Investigation: Parents Accuse University of Illinois Police |

Indian-American Student Death Investigation: Parents Accuse University of Illinois Police |

NEW DELHI: The parents of an 18-year-old Indian-American student Akul Dhawan, who was found dead last week at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), have filed a complaint against the school’s police department for negligence.
Dhawan went missing last Saturday and was found dead almost 10 hours later on the back porch of a building near the university campus in west Urbana, Illinois.Preliminary findings from an autopsy performed on Tuesday showed signs of hypothermia, but no evidence of significant trauma.

The exact cause of Dhawan’s death is still under investigation by the campus police, the Illinois State Police, and the Champaign County Coroner’s Office. University police have stated that preliminary information suggests no foul play was involved, and the death is initially believed to be accidental.

Dhawan’s parents have accused the university’s police department of negligence and have filed a complaint against them over how the search was handled. They claim that their son was found just 400 feet from where he was reported missing, based on location-tracking data from his phone.
“This is bizarre, that a kid is never found who was just less than a block, like one minute away, sitting there, dead, frozen to death,” Ish Dhawan, Akul’s father, told The News-Gazette newspaper. “Imagine what’s going through our mind as a dad and mom. I visualize every minute that my son froze to death on a university campus.”
The university police say they conducted a search in the areas where Dhawan was last seen, including his residence hall and the likely path between the two locations. They also claim to have checked local hospitals and attempted to reach the student via telephone but were unable to locate him. The next morning, an employee of the university discovered Dhawan’s body on the back porch of a building.
“We need answers,” his mother Ritu Dhawan said. “What is the proof that they searched in this area, around the area they’re talking (about), this half-block? My kid would have been found.”
Dhawan’s parents, who reside in California, have met with top university officials to seek answers. They want to understand UI’s search policy to prevent others from experiencing the same pain.
Dhawan, who had turned 18 in September, was studying robotics at the University of Illinois’ Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering against his parents’ wishes as they wanted him to be closer to home.

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