• Grossman, 22, died 2 days after Columbus protest
  • She was exposed to tear gas and pepper spray
  • Found unresponsive on May 30
  • Suffered cardiac arrest upon hospital arrival
  • Cause of death still under investigation

An Ohio woman died two days after attending a George Floyd protest in Columbus on May 28.

Sarah Grossman, 22, attended the protest and her father told the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office on May 31 that she was exposed to the tear gas and pepper spray that “was discharged by police as part of crowd control”, Dayton Daily News reported.

According to the preliminary autopsy results, Grossman, a Centerville resident, was found unresponsive by her family around 10 PM on May 30 and was rushed to Sycamore hospital where she had a cardiac arrest upon arrival, the New York Post reported.

Using a provision of Ohio law that allows the media to review preliminary autopsy records, the Dayton Daily News reviewed the coroner’s report and Grossman’s cause of death still remains under investigation.

According to the same article, an ER nurse reported the young woman’s death as a suspected overdose but the toxicology screens were not complete enough to show drugs in her system and her family denied any history of drug abuse.

The article continued to present information that Grossman’s body bore no signs of lethal trauma and the only medical condition mentioned in the records is a peanut allergy.

City spokeswoman Robin Davis admitted to the Dayton Daily News that the police used tear gas to control the crowds during the protest.

She added that they have not received any official complaints and the investigators in Montgomery County have not talked to the Columbus police.

“Again, we encourage anyone who was with her at the protest or on May 29 or 30 before she went to Sycamore to talk to Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office or (Columbus police),” she added.

Grossman’s sister made a post saying Sarah may have died from respiratory issues after her exposure to the tear gas.

The post has since been edited to remove the reference to the gas.

“We have not received a complaint from the family, the Montgomery County Sheriff or the coroner,” Columbus communications manager Melanie Crabill told the Cincinnati Enquirer on Monday (June 8). “It is tragic any time a young person passes away, but we don’t have much information.”

She said that the city officials had not seen any photos or videos of Grossman at a protest or heard from people who had been with her.

Grossman’s obituary stated that she graduated from Ohio State University this year with a degree of Environment, Economy, Development and Sustainability Program.

“Sarah was a fierce but compassionate supporter of environmental issues and social justice,” her family wrote in her obituary. “A genuine friend who loved and cherished her extraordinary friendships. She was the most caring and thoughtful daughter, a beloved granddaughter, and a loving sibling and best friend to her sister Jessa.”

According to her family, Grossman “planned to pursue work promoting positive environmental, climate and land use policies, assisting migrant workers and indigenous communities” so she spent a few summers in the past in Guatamela researching the country’s harvesting industry.

Grossman’s employer, the Stauf’s Coffee in Columbus posted a tribute for her where they described her as someone who “made everyone feel comfortable and fought for environmental issues”, the New York Post reported.

“Outside of the store, she fought even harder for issues she cared about, including the Rainforest Alliance, and the Black Lives Matter movement,” the post said. “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.”

Protestors wash their eyes with water after being sprayed by tear gas in Washington, May 31, 2020
Protestors wash their eyes with water after being sprayed by tear gas in Washington, May 31, 2020 AFP / ROBERTO SCHMIDT