New Castle News

March 19, 2014

Broken neck is cause of man’s death

Greg Huston
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — An Ellwood City area man found dead outside a neighbor’s home is believed to have fallen down stairs.

State police said the body of Shawn Eric Harper, 41, of 1866 W. Lawrence Ave., was found outside a house in the 1500 block of Fox Street in Wayne Township at 1:30 p.m. Sunday.

An autopsy performed Monday at Heritage Valley Medical Center in Beaver County by forensic pathologist Dr. James Smith revealed that Harper died of a broken neck that he had suffered in a fall on steps leading to an outside patio at the neighbor’s house.

Police said the autopsy also revealed that excessive consumption of alcohol by the victim prior to the fall was a possible factor in his death. Police said the death appears to have been accidental.

Although Harper’s body was found outside his neighbor’s house, police said they believe he fell during the early morning hours and was not noticed by his neighbor. Police said Harper had been deceased for several hours before his body was discovered.