The stories vary regarding how a 20-year-old University of Iowa student fell from a bridge in Rome last January 14. What is tragically clear is that Andrew Mogni died on Easter Sunday at Northwestern Memorial Hospital from complications due to the injuries he suffered there.
Andrew Mogni, of Glen Ellyn, Illinois, had just arrived for a semester abroad program hosted by John Cabot University in the Trastevere district.
One Italian newspaper describes Mogni’s fall as an “accident” following a “pub crawl” though Rome’s Trastevere district, a favorite hangout of American college students. According to this account, Mogni “probably fell from the wall where he was sitting after wandering the streets in a state of semi-consciousness” and was found on the ground by a passerby at 2:00 in the morning on a quay of the Tiber River.
Other accounts, however, suggest that Mogni may have been the victim of foul play. An early Chicago Tribune report submitted that the student may have fallen in with thieves, since he was found without his wallet. The Mail Online goes further, stating that the student had been assaulted on the way home from a party in Rome and thrown off a bridge.
The Mail cites Mogni’s cousin Abby, who wrote online: “At the beginning of January he went to Rome to study aboard and on the way home from a party he was brutally attacked and thrown off a 40ft bridge and hit the concrete below.”
An official letter to participants in the University of Iowa’s study aboard program informed the students that local police were investigating what was initially believed to be an accidental fall.
“Sadly, it is possible that a robbery took place either before or after Andrew’s fall,” wrote Autumn Tallman, the program’s associate director. “Since the police investigation is ongoing, we do not know with certainty what happened or whether a crime caused Andrew’s injuries. We have reported the possibility of a crime to the U.S. Embassy in Rome to encourage their involvement and support.”
After his fall, Mogni was hospitalized in critical condition at Rome’s St. Camillus Hospital, but was later cleared by medical staff to travel back to the United States for treatment there and was flown back on March 20.
In January, Mogni’s friends reported to the police that they and Andrew had been drinking a fair amount of alcohol that evening, making the rounds of several locales. Shortly after 1:30am the 20-year-old had gone off on his own with the intention of returning to the residence where they were staying, they said. Once back at the residence, the friends became aware that Mogni was missing and alerted the authorities.
Following the incident, the university advised other study abroad students to be particularly vigilant of their surroundings, to avoid the consumption of alcohol and walking late at night, and to ensure that everyone in a group has a safe way to return home.
“Even without certainty that a crime took place, we want to make sure that you are informed and prepared to take protective action,” Tallman wrote.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome