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MIT student seen jumping on skylight before fall, police say

An 18-year-old member of an MIT fraternity survived a fall after crashing through a skylight while reportedly jumping on it and plummeting down a four-story stairwell during a party at a frat house in Kenmore Square.

Witnesses told investigators that the unnamed student was jumping up and down on a plexiglass dome on the roof of the Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity house at 487 Commonwealth Ave. about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday when it gave way, sending him crashing to a landing four stories below, according to a Boston police report.

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He suffered injuries not considered life-threatening to his head and genital area, the report said.

Police and city inspectors issued the fraternity several citations after the incident, including for alcohol violations and having an unpermitted roof deck.

The building is owned by the fraternity’s alumni association, the national Phi Sigma Kappa organization said.

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Bryan Glascock, commissioner of the city’s Inspectional Services Department, said Thursday that the building had an unpermitted and unsafe roof deck.

“It didn’t have the requisite railings; it didn’t meet the building code, and hazards like skylights should have been blocked off,” he said.

The Inspectional Services Department will meet next week with MIT, the fraternity, and the building’s property manager to find out who built the illegal deck and how to make the building safe, said Glascock. The department will also work with MIT to identify other potentially unsafe off-campus buildings. Any hearing on the citations will be scheduled after an investigation is complete, he said.

While the department is committed to holding landlords responsible for unsafe properties, tenants also have responsibilities, he said.

“The students are somewhat responsible for their own safety and behavior,” said Glascock. “In terms of getting onto the skylight, clearly some unfortunate decisions were made. . . . He’s probably the luckiest guy I’ve ever heard of. He should be feeling pretty good about things that he’s not dead.”

Michael Carey, National Phi Sigma Kappa vice president, called the fall an accident and said the MIT chapter of the group was one of the best in the country.

“These are your future senators, doctors, and lawyers, solid members of the community,” he said in an interview.

The national fraternity has launched its own investigation, Carey said, and could cite the chapter or individual members if warranted.

The student who fell did not suffer debilitating injuries and was conscious after the fall, according to Carey.

“He knew where he was; he knew what had happened,” Carey said. “He was funny, he was trying to be joking about it.”

Carey said members of the fraternity were shaken.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology said in a statement that its police department had taken statements from witnesses and that the school would investigate the incident. Any possible disciplinary action would not be publicly announced because of privacy policies, an MIT spokeswoman said.

Dan Adams can be reached at Martin Finucane can be reached at
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