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By Alice Lighton
On 5th October Gudrun Loftus, a university lecturer and German language instructor, died after falling down the stairs in St. John’s College.
Mrs Loftus, 52, was found at the bottom of a flight of stairs in the college at around 9am and rushed to the John Radcliffe Hospital where she later died.
A post-mortem suggests that she died “from head injuries and from injuries consistent with a fall” according to a police spokesperson. Police are no longer treating the death as unexplained, contrary to reports in some national newspapers at the weekend.
An inquest is now being carried out by the coroner’s office due to the unexpected nature of the death. The spokesperson commented that this was standard procedure but “sometimes they find something”.
St. John’s has paid tribute to Mrs Loftus on the College website. It reported that she had died “in a tragic accident…after a fall on a college staircase…the college has sent her family the deepest condolences. She was a fine teacher, and will be much missed”.
The college has passed all enquiries on to the University Press Office. Their spokesperson said that “all members of the college were notified soon after the incident through a message from the president” but, other than the statement already released on the St. Johnís website, had no further information to give. Students at the college have also been asked not to speak to the media.
The college has not been able to prevent speculation on the matter. “People think it was unusual for her to be in college early in the morning, and that maybe she had stayed overnight” a St. John’s student revealed. The national press have also taken an interest. Both the Sun and the Daily Mail made reference to the fictional detective Inspector Morse who studied at St. Johnís in the novels and television series.
The fall is thought to have taken place on a spiral staircase near the SCR but most students asked did not know the details of the accident. “Not much has been said about it, to be honest,” one third year said.
Mrs Loftus had been a college lecturer for a number of years at St. Johnís and was awarded a University award for excellence undergraduate teaching in 2007. Third year student Marta Szczerba said that students at the college “are saddened by her death, particularly those who were taught by her”.