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Jewish Ohio student dies 2 days after being tear gassed & pepper sprayed

Sarah Grossman
Sarah Grossman
Sarah Grossman Springboro Ohio
Sarah Grossman, Springboro, Ohio State University graduate

Sarah Grossman, Springboro, Ohio State University graduate passes away two days after suffering cardiac arrest as a result of being tear gassed & pepper sprayed while attending Columbus, BLM protests.

A 22-year-old Jewish graduate student is alleged to have passed away two days after being tear-gassed and pepper-sprayed while participating in George Floyd protests in Ohio

Sarah Grossman, 22, of Springboro, Ohio, died on May 30, after family members saying she’d participated in protests demonstrating against police brutality in Columbus, Ohio.   

The day after her death, Sarah’s father told the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office that while at the May 28 protest, she had been ‘exposed to tear gas and pepper spray’ that had been ‘discharged by police as part of crowd control,’ according to preliminary autopsy records obtained by the Dayton Daily News.   

The final autopsy results have not been completed yet, but according to the preliminary report, Sarah was taken to the hospital at around 10pm on May 30 after she was found non-responsive at the family home. 

When she arrived at the hospital, she was in cardiac arrest and died shortly afterwards. 

Suspected overdose? 

An emergency room nurse said that Sarah’s death was a suspected overdose but her family denied that she had a history of drug abuse. Toxicology tests had not been completed yet.  

Preliminary autopsy results indicated that she had a peanut allergy and that there were no signs of lethal trauma on her body, WCMH reported.  

Sarah’s employers, Stauf’s Coffee Roasters, in Columbus, posted in a Facebook post last Thursday that she had been tear-gassed during the protest. 

In addition to a tribute to her, as well as detailing her devotion to the Rainforest Alliance and Black Lives Matter movement, Stauf’s wrote: ‘As a peaceful protester 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.’ 

On June 3, the City of Columbus tweeted: ‘We have seen social media reports of a young woman passing away as the result of being sprayed during a protest in Columbus.’

The tweet noted that the Columbus Fire Department ‘does not have a record of an EMT transport to any Columbus-area hospitals’,

A City of Columbus spokesperson maintained not having received any first-person accounts of where she’d been protesting or even if she had been at the protests at all. 

The legality of using pepper spray to disperse crowds

The spokesperson also said that Sarah’s family had not lodged any formal complaints as of Sunday. 

The city confirmed that it had used ‘gasses to disperse crowds that night,’ however. 

Photos from the May 28 protests in Columbus indicate that what had started as a peaceful protest turned into a riot when protesters and police officers clashed. 

Some images showed police spraying protesters with a substance that night, while others shows protesters pouring milk and water on their faces. Milk is said to help relieve irritation caused by pepper spray. 

It’s unclear what time and where Sarah might’ve been protesting in Columbus that day. 

Sarah’s sister, Jessa Grossman, posted a tribute on Instagram on June 2, noting that Sarah had recently graduated from Ohio State University with a major in environmental sciences and Spanish and planned to move to Guatemala to start a sustainable farm.

Sarah Grossman, Springboro, Ohio State University graduate.
Pictured, Sarah Grossman, Springboro, Ohio State University graduate (right hand side).

Final autopsy results 8 weeks away

Earlier mentions of the fact that Sarah might’ve died from respiratory issues stemming from exposure to tear gas at the protest were removed from the post, the Dayton Daily News reported.  

The current caption does not mention Sarah participating in the protest but does note that anybody looking to make a donation in Sarah’s name should ‘donate to one of the organizations she was fighting for the most’ – the Rainforest Alliance and the Columbus Freedom Fund, which provides bail money for arrested protesters.

Sarah’s full autopsy results are expected to be available in about eight weeks according to the coroner’s office.