CPS teacher dies at hotel Halloween party

October 30, 2010 10:00:00 PM PDT
A woman who fell several stories died instantly at a Halloween party at Chicago's Palmer House Hilton over the weekend, authorities said. The woman, identified as 23-year-old Megan Duskey, was a Chicago Public Schools teacher.

Duskey graduated from Northern Illinois University last year.

She was enjoying a night out with girlfriends Saturday when, police say, she attempted to slide down a staircase banister and fell.

"Everybody's like, 'Oh, a girl just fell off the balcony.' Everybody kind of freaked out," said Justin Fullmer, who also attended the hotel party.

The accident happened at approximately 10:30 p.m., about 30 minutes after the south suburban Crete woman and her friends arrived at the Palmer House for the celebration.

Investigators say it appears Duskey was attempting to slide down a banister on the hotel's mezzanine level when she lost her balance and fell at least two stories down to the basement level.

"It seems like it was an area where not a lot of people could go to, very secluded or something like that. No one really knew where this girl had fell," party guest Ben Clements said. "It was quite shocking. We were wondering what was going on. Like I said earlier, we were trying to find, I tried to find, the nearest security guard, kind of ask him, you know, 'What's going on? Why is everybody evacuating the place?' He really didn't have any answers."

Hotel officials did not comment.

According to authorities, Duskey died instantly. Police add foul play did not appear to be a factor, but alcohol may have played a role.

Duskey and her friends reportedly had gone to the luxury establishment for the Haunted Hotel Ball.

"I worked it last year for the company that hosts it. We increased capacity by 800 people. So, it was 2,000. Last year, it was 1,300, but it wasn't crowded at all," said Barbara Twarowska, the party's VIP hostess.

Dressed in 1920s gangster garb, Mickey Hoffman also attended the sold-out event, which drew approximately 2,000 people. Hoffman was shocked when the party suddenly stopped.

"All the lights turned on first. We had no idea what was going on," Hoffman said.

Megan Duskey became an early childhood education and early childhood special education teacher at a Far South Side school shortly after graduating from NIU in 2009.

Friends say she loved sports.

Duskey's family released the following statement:

"Megan's passing is a tragic loss to her family and friends. She was a caring, energetic person who was full of life and eager to help others and make a difference in the world."

"We all had fun. It seemed like it was just an unfortunate event," Clements said.

Some party guests told ABC7 Chicago the Halloween event at the hotel was shut down by the fire marshal and that another partygoer was stabbed. The Chicago Fire Department and the Chicago Police Department did not confirm either claim.

Grief counselors are likely to be present Monday at the elementary school where Megan Duskey taught to help students, staff and parents deal with the death.


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