Witnesses and friends gave differing accounts about the moments before the man, identified publicly by the Cook County medical examiner's office Monday as 23-year-old Stewart Haverty of Woodstock, cleared a 3-foot railing at Chicago's Soldier Field and fell more than 35 feet onto the roof of a storage building. Early reports from some news outlets suggested he may have jumped to his death intentionally.
But the Cook County medical examiner's office ruled the death of Haverty an accident caused by injuries consistent with a "fall from height."
Haverty -- whose name was spelled Stuart, according to school officials and family -- fell at about 5 p.m. Sunday from a concessions area that is a popular halftime hangout spot. Haverty was declared dead shortly after being taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital.
"It's a tragic, unfortunate accident," Soldier Field spokesman Luca Serra said.
According to early reports, witnesses told police that Haverty ran to the ledge and jumped. But friends told the Chicago Sun-Times that Haverty may have been going for a cigarette. Smoking is not permitted in the stadium, and Haverty may have meant to sit on or behind the barrier and slipped, or not realized how far the drop was. Police would neither confirm nor deny those accounts.
Serra called the death an "isolated incident" and the first of its kind since completion of a major renovation of the 63,500-seat stadium in 2003.
Chicago police spokesman John Mirabelli said Haverty's death doesn't appear to have been "criminal." He said he didn't know what led to Haverty's fall.
Friends and family described Haverty on Monday as mild-mannered but an avid Bears fan.
He even stacked up sofas at his apartment to make it appear stadium-like, friend Emily Heidenreich told the Chicago Sun-Times.
He was "down to earth, quiet, and fun to go out for a few drinks with," Heidenreich said. "You could always go to him with a problem."
A message left Monday for Heidenreich by The Associated Press wasn't immediately returned.
Haverty graduated early from Woodstock High School in 2006 after taking an interest in machinery, said the school's principal, Corey Tafoya.
He had a particular interest in tool-and-die making, Tafoya said.
"He was a success story in a lot of ways," Tafoya said. "He was a well thought-of kid."
Haverty's aunt, Marianne Haverty, told the newspaper that her nephew was "a sweet, sweet boy," and "an average 23-year-old."
"I'm just in shock," she added.
The Bears issued the following statement: "The Chicago Bears are deeply saddened to hear of the tragic accident that claimed the life of Stuart Haverty yesterday. Our hearts go out to his family and friends. They will be in our prayers during this difficult time."
Haverty's death was the second in a week at a major U.S. sporting arena. On Nov. 21, a 2-year-old boy fell from a luxury box at the Staples Center after a Los Angeles Lakers game. Lucas Anthony Tang's death was ruled an accident.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.