Family of UCSD student who died in fall from dorm window sues UC regents

Freshman Aaron Fan fell to his death from UC San Diego's Tioga Hall.
(Gary Robbins / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

The lawsuit alleges that the window’s design was a key factor in Aaron Fan’s death.


The parents of a UC San Diego student who suffered fatal injuries last year when he fell out of an eighth-floor window at his dorm have sued the University of California Board of Regents, alleging the windows lacked safety devices.

The wrongful-death suit was filed in San Diego County Superior Court on behalf of Aaron Fan of Poway, who was an 18-year-old freshman when the accident occurred.

Authorities said Fan fell from a bathroom window at Tioga Hall on the western edge of the La Jolla campus at about 11:45 p.m. Oct. 22 while the university was celebrating homecoming weekend. He died the following day at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla.

The county medical examiner’s office determined that, at the time of the accident, Fan had a blood-alcohol level of 0.27 percent, more than three times the level at which drivers are allowed to legally operate a vehicle in California.

An autopsy said Fan tested “presumptive positive” for cannabinoids, substances found in the cannabis plant. Authorities said they did not have a way to determine whether Fan had used marijuana in the hours or days before he died.

Parents Xiaocong Fan and Yan Zhao state in their lawsuit that the bathroom windows in Tioga Hall are “hazardously sizeable, to where a person’s body could fully enter the spacing of the opening and fall through the open space of the windows.”

“[The windows] were not equipped with a safety device installed to limit the casement windows from swinging outward to an open position so that a person’s body would be prevented from falling from the window, including and not limited to safety devices of restrictor cables, latches and/or other window guards,” according to the suit.

The UC president’s office did not provide a specific reply when asked for comment.

UCSD said in a statement that “although the university is not able to comment on pending litigation, the safety of students, faculty and staff is our highest concern.” ◆