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A gap where steps are missing is seen on a staircase leading to the JFK/UMass MBTA station where Dr. David Jones, an associate professor at Boston University, was killed when he fell some 20 feet Saturday through the rusted-out staircase.
A gap where steps are missing is seen on a staircase leading to the JFK/UMass MBTA station where Dr. David Jones, an associate professor at Boston University, was killed when he fell some 20 feet Saturday through the rusted-out staircase.Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Boston University will hold a memorial service for Dr. David K. Jones next week , as authorities continue to investigate how the associate professor gained access to a closed ramshackle staircase he fell through Saturday afternoon near the JFK/UMass MBTA station in Dorchester, plunging some 20 feet to his death.

The obituary for Jones, 40, a Milton resident who was a father of three children and a faculty member in the BU School of Public Health, was posted to the website of the Alfred D. Thomas Funeral Home. The obituary said the funeral home will host a public viewing Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

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“A virtual and in-person memorial service will be held at Boston University School of Public Health from 3-5 p.m. on Sept. 23,” the obituary said.

Jones is survived by his wife, Sarah Sacuto, as well as their children, Olivia, Anne, and Thomas, and many other relatives, according to the obituary.

“David’s work as Associate Professor of Health Policy and Law at Boston University encapsulated his profound desire for all people to reach their full potential and his belief that health equity is a fundamental right,” the obituary said. “His ardent focus on eradicating inequities of all kinds was the guiding star of his research and publications.”

At the time of his death, Jones, who’d published a book in 2017 on health care exchanges set up under the Affordable Care Act, was working on another book about public health in the Mississippi Delta region, according to the obituary.

“I came to better understand that racism is more than bad people intentionally harming someone else they view as inferior,” Jones wrote, as quoted in the obituary. " It can take that form, but it is also people — sometimes including me — who believe they are not racist but who are unable to acknowledge or unwilling to change the systems that structurally benefit them while disadvantaging entire groups.”

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It remains unclear how Jones accessed the staircase located near the T stop . Authorities have said the rusted-out staircase, which had a gaping hole where steps used to be, had been closed off to pedestrians since last year with fencing and other barriers.

A spokesman for the Suffolk district attorney’s office said Thursday the death investigation is ongoing.

A State Police spokesman said in an e-mail Thursday that investigators are certain “Mr. Jones was climbing the stairs from Old Colony” Avenue when he fell.

An August 2020 report by the Department of Conservation and Recreation, which oversees roads and a park next to the MBTA’s JFK/UMass station, noted the Old Colony Avenue and Columbia Road intersection next to the staircase was especially dangerous and recommended making nearby crosswalks and surrounding paths safer for pedestrians. An MBTA official also said Monday that DCR was responsible for the stairwell.

Governor Charlie Baker was asked about the case Thursday during his regular appearance on Boston Public Radio on GBH 89.7.

He said he does not believe there is a “jurisdictional dispute” over responsibility for the staircase.

. “I think it’s more that there are a number of points of access to the trains at that station . . . And our folks are obviously working with the DA’s office and others to investigate what happened here and why. And once that investigation is completed, we’ll make a decision about doing something about it.”

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The DCR has said the stairwell was fenced in during January 2020 and that a cement barrier also was installed, along with a sign the T put up saying the stairs were closed. And, officials said Tuesday, MassDOT “mobilized an emergency contract” to further secure the site Monday night.

Jones’s family described his death as “preventable” in a statement posted Tuesday to Facebook.

“Our lives were changed forever last weekend with the sudden, tragic and preventable passing of our beloved father, husband, son, brother David Kline Jones,” the family statement said. “Our hope is that this unimaginable tragic loss will foster a renewed commitment to create safe and healthy environments for all people.”

Jones’s family also referenced his abiding care for others.

“David cared wholly and deeply about people, about communities, and about humanity,” the statement said. “He knew that the love and care we have for each other is reflected in how safe and nurturing every community is.”

The family also requested privacy.

“David’s life was shaped by his kindness and compassion for others, and we are grateful for the lasting impact that he has made in his professional and personal relationships,” the family said.



Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.