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Instagram photos highlight life of WI woman who died after fall from fire escape


A 26-year-old Wisconsin woman died in a tragic accident earlier this week, falling from a Manhattan fire escape while trying to re-enter her apartment.

A self-described "Seattle-born oddball," Kasey Jones grew up and went to college in Wisconsin. But in August last year, she packed up and moved to New York to pursue a career in the arts. She liked to bike, and had been working at Plowshare Coffee Roasters.

The narrative of her life has been pushed one direction, however, by the headlines written in the past 48 hours.

The New York Post and New York Daily News have honed in on two things.

One, witnesses told police Jones was out there drinking – something she did regularly on the Manhattan building's rooftop, sometimes with friends – when she fell while using the fire escape to get back into her apartment.

And two, some photos on her Instagram page taken from a rooftop or fire escape. Some of them feature comments about alcohol, and a few showing her feet near the edge.

Friends however told the Duluth News Tribune there's much more to Jones.

On her photography website, she describes herself as a coffee lover and a young, aspiring photographer.

"Sometimes, a person is born knowing what they want to be. Who they want to be. Most of us aren't that lucky," she wrote. "My name is Kasey Jones. I am a photographer, and I am lucky. This is what I want."

Narrow focus

The timing and nature of the incident have people (and news reports) focused on the handful of Instagram photos that involve rooftops, fire escapes and alcohol.

"When in doubt, drink on the rooftop," one post from three months ago says. Another from a few weeks ago says, "Fire Escapes are for drinking and relaxing."

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This one above has drawn a lot of attention – on it, another user said it "scares the bejesus outta me when you post these 'casually leaning over the edge' pics." Jones' response was, "well I have a lot of whiskey to help me out."

Since her death, that photo has been commented on dozens of times, with users expressing their condolences.

Instagram actually shows broader picture

Despite the New York tabloid publications' portrayal, Jones' Instagram photos actually show a wide array of activities.

There's a coffee cup with a book, a snowy New York street that reminded her of home, espresso drinks she made while working as a barista, dinners, selfies.

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"She was an incredible person who touched everyone around her in a positive way," Mikhael Moore, a friend of Jones, told the Duluth News Tribune.

Another friend, Stacie Buchanan, said the New York rooftop was Jones' comfort spot to go and think – something a lot of people have.

"She was very much a free spirit, very kind and great-hearted," Buchanan said.

Falls from heights

A Center for Injury and Research Policy study from 2010 described falls from heights as "common" in urban areas of the U.S., but focused mainly on falls from balconies among people of all ages.

Last fall, a San Diego State University student died after falling from an apartment building. She'd reportedly been drinking with friends, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. A similar incident happened with a 23-year-old museum intern in New York last August, and also to a Temple University student in Philadelphia in 2013.

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