Winona State University suffered a loss on Monday when 21-year-old Brooke Baures, a student at the school, was found dead in the food elevator of WingDam Saloon & Grill in Fountain City, Minnesota.
Baures worked at the restaurant and was a senior at Winona State majoring in social work. She was also an active member of WSU’s gymnastics team.
“Brooke was a leader on that team and a very talented gymnast,” said Eric Schoh, WSU athletic director. “This is a tremendous loss for our community, and we ask that you keep Brooke and her family, friends, coaches and teammates in your thoughts.”
The three feet by three feet food elevator is used to transport bulk food from the first to the second floor of the building and isn’t designed for humans. Police officer Jason Mork said that he doubted that Baures was using the elevator to transport herself although she was found inside of it.
“[She was] trapped inside the elevator… she was found by first responders to have passed away.”
Another worker at the restaurant called 911 at 7:55 p.m. to report the incident. Foul play is not suspected.
“We’re trying to rule everything out, for the sake of being able to tell [Baures’s family] if they want to know what happened,” Mork said, adding that he’s waiting for the autopsy results before saying more about the cause of Baures’s death.
Mork said that he isn’t willing to speculate on more details. “I won’t get into that,” he told Fox 9.
Coaches and teammates called Baures “warm, outgoing,” and with “a smile that brightened the darkest room.”
“She’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime athletes,” coach Becki Rolbiecki said. “Her work ethic inspired everybody in the gym because she just went all out and gave her all every practice.
“Awesome team person, you know. Very compassionate and caring person, a good listener, a good friend, a good mentor. We had lots of conversations and lots of discussions about life and love and wishes and dreams and hopes.”
The gymnastics team and other students are planning a candle light vigil for Baures Wednesday night at 8:00 p.m. at the gazebo on campus.
The WingDam Saloon & Grill has been closed since the incident.