Coroner: Miami University freshman died of alcohol poisoning

HAMILTON, Ohio -- More than a month after her death, the Butler County Coroner confirms that a Miami University freshman died from alcohol poisoning.

The coroner said Wednesday that Erica Buschick, 18, died of "complications of acute ethanol toxicity" on Jan. 20. Her death was ruled an accident.

Buschick's blood alcohol content was 0.347, according to the coroner's report. She also tested positive for THC. Asphyxiation may have also played a role in her death, as she was found face down in a soft pillow. 

In January, school officials alluded to binge drinking as a factor in Buschick's death; Miami President Greg Crawford wrote in a statement that police reports suggest "that alcohol contributed to this tragedy."

"High-risk alcohol consumption among college students is of concern to every university president and I am determined and committed to doing all that we can to help ensure the well-being of all of our students," Crawford wrote.

Last weekend, police charged 35 people with underage drinking near Miami's campus. State agents arrested 17 people Friday at Johnny's Campus Deli on East Sycamore Street. All used fake identifications to buy beer, according to the Ohio State Highway Patrol's Ohio Investigative Unit.

"After the incidents that had taken place, we thought that we definitely needed to get some guys up there and see what was going on," said Adam Johnson, agent-in-charge at the Cincinnati district office.

RELATED: Some face no punishment in Miami binge drinking

The 17 suspects were charged with underage possession and issued a summons to appear in the Butler County Area I Court for judicial hearings in the upcoming weeks.

Agents also seized 21 fake drivers' licenses and student ID cards from the underage suspects, according to the state patrol. Those fake IDs are getting harder to detect, Johnson said.

Earlier this month, drunken students filled an emergency room to capacity and nearly forced it to turn away other patients, Oxford Police Sgt. Jon Varley told WCPO.

Of 21 students treated, nineteen were underage and 17 were women.

"It becomes concerning to us that so many people are getting to that level of intoxication that they need help," he said.

Varley told WCPO he has never seen the drinking problem at Miami so bad.

"It's going to have to be a grassroots change and a change of the culture of Miami," he said.

 

Reporters Hillary Lake and John Genovese contributed to this report.

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