Published: October 30, 2012
Life of UNC freshman remembered
Police say investigation proving alcohol use, possible hazing issues
By Tammy Grubb – firstname.lastname@example.org
CHAPEL HILL — A memorial service was held on campus Monday for a UNC-Chapel Hill freshman who police said died this weekend from a 17-foot fall.
Students and others gathered inside the Student Union to remember David Palmer Shannon, 18, of Charlotte. Carrboro police said he fell off an elevated conveyor at the Ready Mixed Concrete Plant on Guthrie Lane. Other students looking for Shannon found him and called police about 10:30 p.m. Saturday, spokesman Lt. Chris Atack said.
Witnesses told police Shannon was seen drinking alcohol Friday night and early Saturday morning, Atack said. He may have been alone at the plant and appears to have fallen from the machine to the concrete surface below, he said. Alcohol could have been involved, he said.
Police are also investigating weekend activities and possible hazing at the Chi Phi fraternity, where Shannon pledged, Atack said. An official cause of death won’t be released until the state medical examiner’s office in Chapel Hill completes an autopsy, he said.
The 2012 graduate of Charlotte’s Myers Park High School was majoring in business administration. Family friend Bryan Joyner said Shannon was accepted into Chi Phi. Monday would have been the end of his pledge period.
A Chapel Hill Florist van was parked in the fraternity’s driveway Monday afternoon. The driver carried several bouquets to the house. A fraternity member who answered the door said it was too soon to comment about Shannon or his death.
“As we grieve David’s loss as a campus community, our thoughts are with his parents, family and friends,” UNC-CH Chancellor Holden Thorp said in a weekend news release.
Joyner said the university and Shannon’s family have set up a memorial fund in his honor. A separate fund is being set up at his high school in Charlotte, he said.
University administrators referred questions Monday to the Carrboro Police Department.
Aaron Bachenheimer, director of Fraternity and Sorority Life and Community Involvement, declined to answer questions about whether Chi Phi was being investigated.
It would be “just not appropriate for me to make any comments related to an ongoing investigatory process,” Bachenheimer said. Shannon’s brother, Stephen, and parents, Katy and Hugh Shannon, gathered with friends Sunday at the family’s home in Charlotte. Stephen Shannon, 21, is a senior at Elon University.
“Obviously, the family is devastated,” Joyner said. “I know there are a lot of questions that they have that they’re hoping to find the answers to.”
‘Well liked … well loved’
It’s hard to think about all the good memories he has of Shannon, Joyner said. He was very active at Carmel Baptist Church in Matthews. He was a leader in the youth group, taught Sunday school and served as a church camp counselor.
He also played defensive end for the Myers Park High School football team and won several DECA competitions. DECA is an international association of marketing students.
Joyner said his classmates voted him “Most Eligible Future Husband.”
“He could have easily been a conceited, elitist jock,” Joyner said. “He had a truly loving and friendly personality. He made friends easily. He wasn’t just well liked, he was well loved. Everyone adored David.”
A funeral will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at Carmel Baptist Church, 1145 Pineville-Matthews Road in Matthews. Visitation will follow the service.
Anyone with information about Shannon’s death is asked to call Sgt. Mike Metz at 919-918-7409 or Lt. Anthony Westbrook at 919-918-7417. Staff writer Jane Stancill and The Charlotte Observer’s Elisabeth Arriero contributed.