DEAN OF STUDENTS SENTWALI BAKARI addresses reporters Tuesday afternoon after the university confirmed the death of Drake sophomore Benjamin Backstrom. Backstrom was found early Tuesday morning slumped over a bridge near Indianola. (Sarah Andrews | Photo/Design Editor)
A Drake sophomore died Tuesday afternoon after sustaining major injuries from an assault in Warren County early that morning.
Business student Benjamin Backstrom was transported to Iowa Methodist Medical Center after law enforcement officers found him leaning over the side of a bridge on U.S. Highway 65, four miles north of Indianola at around 1:30 a.m., according to the Iowa Department of Public Safety. He was pronounced dead Tuesday afternoon.
Officials are treating the case as a homicide.
The Division of Criminal Investigation will not know the cause of death until the Polk County Medical Examiners Office performs an autopsy.
There is no information available at this time regarding why Backstrom was in Warren County last night or how he ended up on that bridge.
Drake University President David Maxwell said that Dean of Students Sentwali Bakari contacted him at 4 a.m. Tuesday morning and was monitoring the situation all day.
Bakari said that he has had minimal contact with the Backstrom family but did say that the family wants to keep the matter as private as possible.
“Our primary concern is with the well-being of Drake students, and we certainly want to express our condolences to the Backstrom family,” Bakari said at a press conference Tuesday afternoon.
Bakari, who taught Backstrom in his first-year seminar on leadership, said that he will be sorely missed.
“He was involved on campus and did all the things he was asked to do in class; participating in all the activities,” Bakari said. “Perhaps a little more reserved guy, but a fun guy to be around.”
Official reports did not mention any other student involvement.
Maxwell informed the Drake community of Backstrom’s death around 5 p.m. Tuesday afternoon through an e-mail. To read its contents, visit timesdelphic.com.
This is the second student death this year. First-year Victorya Van-Pelt passed away in September from complications related to upper-respiratory distress.
STUDENTS gathered for a candlelight vigil outside of Goodwin-Kirk residence hall complex to mourn the death of Drake student Benjamin Backstrom. Students shared memories and wrote messages on the sidewalk in honor of the deceased student. Students were joined by Backstrom’s family members. (Sarah Andrews Photo/Design Editor)