The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Parents of dead UI student file complaint against police department


On Jan. 20, 18-year-old Akul Dhawan, freshman in Engineering, was found dead in west Urbana. Dhawan’s parents decided to file a complaint against UIPD claiming negligence regarding the handling of the search. 

Dhawan was reported missing on Jan. 20 at around 1:30 am, according to University police. The student had been missing for about one hour when his absence was reported. 

Dhawan was discovered by a school employee 10 hours later on the back porch of the 1203 block of West Nevada Street near The Canopy Club at 11 a.m. on Jan. 20. 

The student’s body was found 400 feet away from his last reported location. Police were able to retrieve his last location through a friend of Dhawan.

An autopsy performed on Jan. 23 showcased signs of hypothermia in the student’s body.

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A press release by Champaign County Coroner Stephen Thuney reported evidence of hypothermic skin changes in Dhawan’s body. Jan. 20 was one of the coldest days of the month with a low of minus 1 degrees Fahrenheit on the night the student went missing.

UIPD released additional information on Jan. 31 regarding the investigation. The student visited The Canopy Club and had consumed alcohol before and while at the establishment. Information regarding Dhawan’s presence at The Canopy Club was not communicated by the friend who reported his absence to police. 

1:23 a.m. — A friend of Dhawan calls METCAD via the nonemergency line to report that he is concerned about Dhawan.

1:25 a.m. — The friend communicates that he had last seen Dhawan at the Busey-Evans Residence Halls and cannot find him. The MEDCAT telecommunicator adds notations to the dispatch ticket. The reporting friend then contacts Dhawan’s roommate, who states that Dhawan is not at his Presby Hall residence.

1:27 a.m. — The METCAD telecommunicator asks a UIPD officer to call the reporting person. 

1:28 a.m. — The METCAD telecommunicator adds a notation to the dispatch ticket that Dhawan’s phone went straight to voicemail.

1:35 a.m. — The UIPD officer calls the reporting friend and updates the dispatch ticket. The individual reports that he had last had contact with Dhawan about an hour prior around 12:20 a.m. at the Busey-Evans Residence Halls. The friend states that Dhawan might have left with another group of friends. The UIPD officer asks if Dhawan could possibly be with friends on Green Street. The friend states that Dhawan may be intoxicated but is not sure. No additional information was provided relating to Dhawan’s location.

1:54 a.m. — The UIPD officer updates the dispatch ticket with a physical description of Dhawan. He was last seen wearing a black sweatshirt, dark blue jeans and glasses. He stands at 5-foot-8 and has dark black hair that is parted in the middle. 

2:09 a.m. — The UIPD officer documents a search he has conducted around the Busey-Evans Residence Halls, Presby Hall and the likely path between both locations. The officer drove at a walking pace along a sidewalk between Bevier Hall and the cultural houses on Nevada Street. The officer searches past Foellinger Auditorium and across the Main Quad while speaking to several people about whether they saw anyone. UIPD telecommunicators searched to see if Dhawan had swiped his student identification card at any campus location. The interviews and searches do not lead to additional information about Dhawan’s location. 

2:09 a.m. — The UIPD officer documents that he called Dhawan’s phone, but the call went straight to voicemail. The officer then spoke with the friend who reported Dhawan in order to help locate the individual. 

2:57 a.m. — The reporting friend then calls the UIPD officer and states that he still hasn’t been able to locate Dhawan. 

4:40 a.m. — The UIPD officer then calls Carle Hospital to inquire whether Dhawan is at the hospital. He is not. 

4:48 a.m. UIPD officer calls OSF Heart of Mary Medical Center to inquire whether Dhawan is present. He is not.

4:51 a.m. — The UIPD officer leaves a message for Dhawan’s roommate. 

8 a.m. — A UIPD sergeant calls and speaks with the reporting friend. 

9:37 a.m. — Dhawan’s roommate returns the UIPD officer’s message and states that Dhawan has not returned.

11:08 a.m. — A University employee exiting Bevier Hall sees the student lying on concrete steps behind 1203 W. Nevada St. and calls 911.

11:09 a.m. — The 911 call is dispatched. 

11:12 a.m. — Various UIPD and Division of Public Safety staff begin to arrive on the scene and start rescue efforts. CPR and the application of an AED were performed.

11:14 a.m. — The Urbana Fire Department arrives on the scene.

11:18 a.m. — An ambulance arrives on scene.

11:21 a.m. — Medical responders discontinue efforts, and the Champaign County coroner is requested. 

As of right now, there is no exact cause of death that has been reported and the death continues to be investigated by campus police, the Champaign County Coroner’s Office and the Illinois State Police.

Anyone with potential information is encouraged to contact UIPD at 217-333-1216, an anonymous option is accessible by contacting Champaign County Crime Stoppers at 217-373-TIPS. 


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