A Lecturer in German at St. John’s College, Mrs Gudrun Loftus, has died after sustaining what a police statement described as “serious injuries”.
Mrs Loftus, 52, was taken to the John Radcliffe hospital after her body was discovered at the foot of a spiral flight of stairs at 6.45am on Tuesday morning of this week. She was declared dead shortly after 10 am.
An email sent by the Principal Bursar of St. John’s, Andrew Parker, to members of the college on Wednesday morning said that Mrs Loftus had died after “an accidental fall on a staircase”. A statement released by Sir Michael Scholar, College President, reiterated the view that the incident was a “tragic accident”.
The email said: “Members of the College will be aware of the deeply unfortunate death of Mrs Gudrun Loftus, following an accidental fall on a staircase within the College.”
All students at St John’s College were urged not to speak to the press so that the event does not “become the focus of inaccurate speculation.”
Thames Valley Police, though, are still treating the death as “unexplained” and are “awaiting the result of a post mortem examination”.
Members of the college have been quick to pay tribute to Mrs Loftus, who received a University Teaching Award in 2007 for excellence in undergraduate teaching. Sir Michael Scholar described her as “a fine teacher” who “will be very much missed”.
One second-year student admitted, “Everyone in college is shocked”. Both said that their thoughts were with Mrs Loftus’ family.
Meanwhile, fears are being raised about some of the staircases in St. John’s. According to another undergraduate, there are many steep and “dangerous” staircases in the older parts of the college. He described Mrs Loftus’ fatal fall as “an accident waiting to happen”.