How Akul Dhawan, an Indian-American student, died of hypothermia

Akul Dhawan

Illinois: Akul Dhawan, an 18-year-old Indian-American student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, died of hypothermia last month after going missing for several hours in freezing temperatures. His death was also influenced by acute alcohol intoxication, according to the Champaign County Coroner’s Office in Illinois.

The Autopsy Report

The coroner’s office released a statement on Tuesday, January 23, 2024, that confirmed the cause of death of Akul Dhawan. The statement said that an autopsy was performed on the same day and revealed that Dhawan died of hypothermia, which is a condition of abnormally low body temperature that can lead to organ failure and death.

The statement also said that acute alcohol intoxication and prolonged exposure to extremely cold temperatures significantly contributed to his death. Acute alcohol intoxication is a condition of having a high level of alcohol in the blood that can impair judgment, coordination, and consciousness.

The Night Out

Akul Dhawan was out with friends for a few drinks on the night he died, January 20, 2024. They decided to visit the Canopy Club, a popular nightclub near the university campus in west Urbana, around 11:30 pm. They had visited the club earlier as well.

However, the staff denied him entry to the club despite him trying to enter the club multiple times. Local media outlets also reported that Dhawan turned down two rideshare vehicles called for him by his friends, who were worried about his condition.

Illinois and the US Midwest witnessed biting, brutal cold and freezing temperatures in the latter half of January, with temperatures dipping between 0°C and -2°C. Dhawan was not dressed appropriately for the weather, wearing only a light jacket and jeans.

The Search and the Discovery

The search for Dhawan was triggered when several calls made to him went unanswered and a friend contacted the campus police to look for him. The police said an officer looked for Dhawan by driving at a walking pace near the likely path he would have taken back to the university campus.

However, the next morning, a university employee notified the police after finding a man on the back porch of a building. The police said he was dead at the time he was found. He was identified as Akul Dhawan. He was found four minutes away from the Canopy Club, according to Google Maps.

Akul Dhawan

The Background and the Family

Akul Dhawan, who turned 18 in September last year, according to The News-Gazette, came to the University of Illinois’ Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering to study robotics. He was a bright and talented student who had a passion for science and technology.

His parents, who live in New Jersey, have claimed that the police never searched for their son and that they were not informed of his death until hours later. They have also questioned the role of the Canopy Club staff and the rideshare drivers in the incident. They have demanded a thorough investigation and justice for their son.