A 22-year-old Ohio woman has died two days after she was tear-gassed and pepper-sprayed by police during a George Floyd rally in Columbus, according to a report.
Sarah Grossman attended the demonstration on May 28, when she was “exposed to tear gas and pepper spray” that was “discharged by police as part of crowd control,” her father told the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office on May 31, according to the Dayton Daily News.
The day before, the Centerville woman was found unresponsive by her family about 10 p.m. and was rushed to Sycamore Hospital, where she arrived in cardiac arrest, according to preliminary autopsy results.
The Dayton Daily News reviewed the coroner’s report using a provision of Ohio law that allows the media to review preliminary autopsy records.
The young woman’s cause of death remains under investigation.
An ER nurse reported her death as a suspected overdose, but no toxicology screen has been completed to show drugs in her system and her family denies any history of drug abuse, according to records cited by the outlet.
Grossman’s body showed no signs of lethal trauma and the only medical condition mentioned in the preliminary records is an allergy to peanuts, the paper reported.
“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),” city spokeswoman Robin Davis told the Dayton Daily News.
“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),” she added.
Grossman’s sister has said online that Sarah may have died from respiratory issues after being exposed to tear gas. Her post has since been edited to remove the reference to tear gas.
Columbus communications manager Melanie Crabill told the Cincinnati Enquirer on Monday that city officials had seen no photos or videos of Grossman at a protest, nor heard from anyone who had been with her.
“We have not received a complaint from the family, the Montgomery County Sheriff or the coroner,” she told the news outlet. “It is tragic any time a young person passes away, but we don’t have much information.”
Grossman graduated from Ohio State University this year with a degree from the school’s Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability program, according to her obituary.
“It is impossible to find the words to describe her kindness, unique spirit, and unwavering dedication to her convictions,” her family wrote in the obit.
“Sarah was a fierce but compassionate supporter of environmental issues and social justice,” they added. A genuine friend who loved and cherished her extraordinary friendships. She was the most caring and thoughtful daughter, a beloved granddaughter, and a loving sibling and best friend to her sister Jessa.”
Grossman, who had spent the past couple of summers in Guatemala researching the country’s harvesting industry, “planned to pursue work promoting positive environmental, climate and land use policies, assisting migrant workers and indigenous communities,” the family said.
Her employer, Stauf’s Coffee in Columbus, posted a tribute online saying Grossman made everyone feel comfortable and fought for environmental issues.
“Outside of the store, she fought even harder for issues she cared about, including the Rainforest Alliance, and the Black Lives Matter movement,” the post said.
“As a peaceful protester this weekend, she stood up to end police brutality and was tear gassed as a result. Her death came in the aftermath, but her legacy stands even stronger.”
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