When Carlisle Brigham was found bloody and unconscious at the bottom of a stairwell at 191 Orchard St. on Aug. 27, homicide rumors swirled, adding to the shocking news for Brigham’s family and disconcerting the surrounding Lower East Side and Chinatown community. But now, medical examiners have laid those rumors to rest for Brigham’s family and neighbors.
A spokesperson for the Chief Medical Examiner (CME) for the City of New York confirmed Brigham’s death was an accident, with no foul play suspected. Her gashes, wounds and broken arm were the result of a fall down the enclosed stairwell. The cause of the fall, however, remains unknown.
Aviation High School student Mizanur Rahman, 19, a resident of the Lower East Side building, was one of the first neighbors to find Brigham after her fall. “There was so much blood, I almost threw up,” Rahman said in an interview about the scene when he saw Brigham three floors down from his family’s apartment. “I just called 911, asked if I should do CPR, and they said yes.” Rahman added he had never seen Brigham before, and that he assumed Brigham was dead when he found her.
According to Rahman, who is CPR-certified and familiar with administering a defibrillator, fellow apartment residents crowded around as he took proper action by removing Brigham’s shirt and bra and applied what he estimates were between 300 and 500 compressions.
Rahman recalls a beeping pulse when EMTs arrived a few minutes later and connected Brigham to an EKG—and they left with her body uncovered—but Brigham was reportedly pronounced dead upon arrival at Beth Israel Hospital.
There is still speculation about what caused the tragic fall. Rahman doesn’t believe his building’s stairwell is any steeper or more dangerous than others, but noted that Brigham was wearing white high heels at the time of her fall. There’s also wide speculation that Brigham was drinking heavily earlier at the bar Sixth Ward. The CME’s spokesperson confirmed toxicology results won’t be reported for months.
According to the New York Times, Brigham was married last year to Anthony Champalimaud, but the couple were apparently separated at the time of Brigham’s death and Champalimaud was in England when the accident happened. Brigham had previously worked as an intern at the American Museum of Natural History, and her father James Brigham Jr. had served as the New York City’s budget director under Mayor Ed Koch. At the time of her death, Brigham was allegedly staying with a friend who lived at the Orchard Street building.
“Stuff can happen anywhere, it’s scary,” said a local worker, who didn’t want to give their name, of the incident.
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