Sarah Grossman: Ohio student dies after being tear-gassed and pepper-sprayed at George Floyd protest

Two days after she participated in a protest, the 22-year-old passed away after a cardiac arrest


                            Sarah Grossman: Ohio student dies after being tear-gassed and pepper-sprayed at George Floyd protest
(Getty Images)
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SPRINGBORO, OHIO: A 22-year-old woman has died after allegedly being exposed to tear gas and pepper spray at a George Floyd protest in Ohio. Sarah Grossman passed away on May 30, two days after her relatives said she participated in a protest in Columbus, Ohio.

On May 31, a day after Sarah’s death, her father told the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office that his daughter had been “exposed to tear gas and pepper spray” while she was at a May 28 protest. The sprays were “discharged by police as part of crowd control”. 

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Though details from the final autopsy report are yet to be revealed, a preliminary report stated that Sarah was rushed to a hospital at around 10 pm on May 30 after she was found non-responsive at their home. She was in cardiac arrest when she reached the hospital and died shortly after, The Daily Mail reported.

According to news reports, a hospital nurse said that Sarah’s death was due to a suspected overdose, but her family has denied it saying that she did not have a history of drug abuse. The preliminary autopsy results also mention that the patient had a peanut allergy and that there were no signs of lethal trauma on her body. The Montgomery County Coroner’s Office said that it will take approximately eight weeks to reveal the full autopsy results.

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Meanwhile, after Sarah’s death, reports surfaced on social media that she was tear-gassed at a protest in Columbus. A coffee shop, Stauf’s Coffee Roasters, in Columbus, where she used to work, wrote on Facebook: “Sarah was known for her devotion to keeping the workplace green by implementing environmentally-friendly practices on and off the clock. Outside of the store, she fought even harder for issues she cared about, including the Rainforest Alliance and the Black Lives Matter movement. As a peaceful protestor this weekend, she stood up to end police brutality and was tear-gassed as a result. Her death came in the aftermath but her legacy stands even stronger.”

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On June 3, the city of Columbus posted to Twitter: “We have seen social media reports of a young woman passing away as the result of being sprayed during a protest in Columbus. What we know right now is that (the Columbus Fire Department) does not have a record of an EMT transport to any Columbus-area hospitals.”

Columbus city spokeswoman Robin Davis on Sunday, June 7, said that they have not received any information or evidence clarifying where Sarah was protesting or if she was at the demonstration at all. Davis also insisted that they have not received any formal complaint from the woman’s family, adding that the city encourages people who have additional information to provide it. “It’s tragic any time a young person passes away, but we don’t have any information,” the spokeswoman stated.

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Sarah’s sister, Jessa Grossman, posted a tribute in memory of her sister on Instagram on June 2. She wrote: “If you had ever met Sarah, you know that she impacted every person’s life that she touched. She never cared about what anyone thought of her, only caring about helping others. She had just graduated from OSU with a major in environmental sciences and Spanish. Her plans were to first finish classes in Argentina and then go to the border of Mexico to help the children there, followed by moving to Guatemala to have a sustainable farm. She has been my rock, my biggest inspiration and role model, and most importantly the best friend I have ever had. I promise to carry on her legacy and finish the things she was starting.”

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In the post, Jessa also asked those who were interested in donations to “donate to one of the organizations” Sarah “was fighting for the most.” “These include the Rainforest Alliance as well as the Columbus Freedom Fund. Thank you all for your love and support. I will never stop fighting,” she wrote.

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