Posted by Julia Leef
On Sept. 23, the Saratoga Springs Police Department released new information concerning the toxicology report of 19-year-old Boston College sophomore Alexander Grant. The results indicated that alcohol was involved in his death, though there are still several unanswered questions regarding the case.
In the first week of March Alexander Grant, an honors student from Briarcliff Manor High School, came to visit some high school friends at Skidmore College for the weekend. After he disappeared from a party on March 5 at 146 Church St., Grant was not seen for three days. On March 8 his body was discovered about a mile away from the 146 Church St party. He is believed to have suffered from hypothermia and drowned.
Following his death, the Albany Medical Center screened his blood for nearly 100 drugs. All tests came back negative. On Sept. 14, an independent lab in Pennsylvania returned the results of testing for additional drugs, bringing the overall total to 600. All of these also came back negative, thus indicating that Grant had not taken any narcotics immediately prior to his death.
Saratoga County District Attorney James A. Murphy, III, said that the absence of drugs was a great relief to both the investigators and to Grant's family. "What concerns us more, however," he said in a statement released on Wednesday, "is that the toxicology, in its absence of information, actually leaves us with more questions than answers. We still don't know what affected his body to such a significant degree, which then led to the circumstances that caused his death."
Murphy also stated in a later interview that as some drugs have a very short lifespan, it is possible that the drugs had already dissipated from Grant's system at the time of the testing. However, as there is no evidence to support the theory at this time, it remains purely speculation.
Police estimate that Grant left the party between 11:30 p.m. and midnight. There remains no record of his whereabouts until 1:15 a.m. when he broke into a medical office at 3 Care Lane, wearing only his boxer shorts, a shirt and one sock. He was bleeding from cuts he received from entering the building. Grant remained there for an hour and then departed the premises.
Although the results of the toxicology report were not immediately released according to the wishes of the Grant family, last Friday the report revealed that Grant's blood alcohol content at the time of testing was 0.11 percent, 0.03 percent higher than the legal driving limit for adults.
In addition to his BAC, Grant's VAC (vitreous alcohol content), was 0.16 percent. VAC is determined from eye fluid, and lags behind the BAC. From this information, investigators have drawn the conclusion that Grant's actual BAC was higher than 0.16 when he left the party.
According to Murphy, toxicology reports generally take about 18 months to process. However, due to the small number of labs in New York state, it is not unusual for cases to be delayed. With 10,000 cases a year in Saratoga county, and 62 counties in New York, it is no wonder that the results from March are just now being released.
Despite the findings of the autopsy results, there are many questions that remain unanswered. In a statement released on Sept. 22, the Grant family expressed a desire to uncover the cause of Grant's behavior on the night of his death. "We view it as our solemn responsibility to do everything in our power to better understand this tragedy, and will continue our labors in this regard for as long as it takes to obtain the answers to which we are entitled."
One student, who wishes to remain anonymous, was at the party on March 5, but does not recall seeing Alexander Grant, although he is certain the young man was there. The student remembers that there was not an excessive amount of alcohol at the party, and believes that Grant may have been intoxicated before arriving at 146 Church St.
The Saratoga Springs Police Department recently reaffirmed the immunity originally offered within a week of Grant's death. This immunity encourages students who may know anything pertaining to Grant's death to come forward, saying that they will not be prosecuted for engaging in minor offenses at the time.
"We're not interested in charging or prosecuting anyone for that kind of offense in this particular circumstance," Murphy said. "We're more interested in getting the information from them because we're still putting the pieces of the puzzle together. There should be no fear about getting charged or arrested or prosecuted."
Saratoga Springs police said Wednesday that they are following all leads in pursuit of more conclusive answers regarding Grant's behavior on the night of his death. Some of these leads involve students who have come forth to speak to the police, which will hopefully reveal new information.
Murphy emphasized the importance of sharing information. "People who saw anything should call the police and feel comfortable about reporting what they saw," he said. "I'm just hopeful that people think about that incident that night if they were there and feel comfortable coming forward, and that they know that they won't get in trouble for coming forward."
In honor of his memory, Grant's family founded the Alexander Maxwell Grant Foundation. They will also be sponsoring a 5K run at Boston College on Oct. 8. More information about this event can be found at alexgrant.org.