Student dies after falling from High Street apartment

West Virginia University student Brian Weithenauer died Sunday morning after falling from a platform located outside a top-floor apartment into an alley. The apartment was above the nightclub Rain on High Street.

The 19-year-old Weithenauer was from Toms River, N.J.

A bell-ringing ceremony will be held soon in his honor, according to The Daily Athenaeum.

According to an article in the Dominion Post, Morgantown Police Chief Ed Preston said Weithenauer fell into the alley between the Monongalia Magistrate Court building and the building that houses Rain around 1 a.m. The alley is only accessible through the bar.

I was downtown earlier and decided to get some pictures of the area, but at the time I didn’t know it was in an alley only accessible through the bar. However, you can see from the photos that there isn’t a visible alley between Rain and the other buildings.

Rain is located at 250 High Street. The silver door to the right of the main door is the entrance for the apartments.

On the backside of the building that houses Rain is the Monongalia County Magistrate Court and Mid-Nite Adult, which is located on the right side of the white fence.

Rain’s owner, Janet Amores, told the Dominion Post that she was out of town, but a manager told her that Weithenauer was attending a party in an apartment upstairs and did not enter Rain. Rain is an 18 and over nightclub, according to DubVNightlife.com.

Preston said no foul play is expected, but they will continue to investigate. Morgantown Chief Code Enforcement Officer Mike Stone told the Dominion Post his office will “probably check the building for code violations,” after the police complete their investigation. Outdoor platforms are required to have railings.

No platforms were visible from the front or back of the buildings on street-level.

According to the city of Morgantown’s rental property list, the apartments at 240-250 High Street are owned by Inner City Pro Real. There are two units, and the rental license expires Dec. 20, 2013. The units were last inspected Dec. 20, 2010. Those are the only units listed for that company.

A quick search of Google and the Yellow Pages showed no results for “Inner City Pro Real.”

Amores told the Dominion Post that Phil Shuman owns the building.

Another resident of Morgantown fell from the apartments above Rain just eight months ago.

On August 25, 2011, Brianna Smith fell out of a window from a fifth-story apartment above Rain. Smith had broken toes, broken foot bones, a shattered heel, liver trauma, three broken teeth, brain hemorrhaging and various bruises, cuts and scratches. She lost 9 inches of her intestine, had 10 staples put in her head and had to have her ear re-attached, according to a story that ran in the Dominion Post.

Preston said foul play wasn’t suspected.

Smith said she had no recollection of how she got to the apartment or how she fell from the window. The last thing she remembered was dancing at Rain, and the next thing she remembered was waking up in a hospital bed, confused and frantically trying to pull out IVs.

It took police several hours to identify Smith because she couldn’t communicate and didn’t have her ID on her. She was identified when police released a description of her tattoos and her roommate recognized them and called police.

Smith had a high alcohol content which surprised her because she only remembered having one shot. She thought she may have been drugged because her friends said she started acting weird and disappeared. She then went with people she didn’t know to the apartment upstairs, and no one said they saw her fall from the window.

Preston told the Dominion Post he wasn’t sure if Weithenauer had fallen from the same apartment as Smith.

The Morgantown Police Department is asking anyone who has information about the Sunday morning incident to call the detective unit at (304) 284-7454.

– Leann

UPDATE (4:56 p.m.)Brianna Smith is speaking out about the recent incident on her Facebook page, which is public.

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The Players: Landlords/Rental Properties

When looking into covering a topic, a reporter has to look at the “players,” or the people who are involved. There are a few groups that I consider to be the important players in this topic:

Today I’m going to look into landlords and rental properties in Sunnyside.

The way I’ve found these apartments is by searching at apartmentratings.com and Google Maps. It’s possible that I left some out, and if you notice that I have, please leave a comment to let me know.

According to Sunnyside Up, “Sunnyside is located immediately to the west of West Virginia University’s Downtown Campus and adjacent to the Square at Falling Run development, encompasses more than 130 acres of land between Campus Drive, Jones Avenue, Eighth Street and the banks of the Monongahela River.” Here are a couple rough outlines I created with Google Maps of the area:

(To view full map and use interactive features, go here)

(To view full-size interactive map, go here. This is the Google Earth view.)

I will list each apartment, the address and a link to its rating from apartmentratings.com, if available. In a previous post, I noted that apartmentratings.com seems to be the most popular place for Morgantown residents to review and rate their rental units. It’s important to actually read the reviews and not just make a decision based on the rating. Some are highly recommended despite their low scores.

  • Bent Tree Court/Pine Ridge / Corner of 8th Street & Beechurst Ave. / 3.7 out of 5
  • Glenlock North / 2108 University Ave. / 1.5 out of 5
  • Kelly Rental Management LLC / 100 7th St.
  • Mel Friend Rental Apartments / 48 Campus Dr.
  • Metro Towers / 2567 University Ave.
  • Mountaineer Court / 1993 Water St. / 2.7 out of 5
  • MTW Apartments LLC / 521 Beverly Ave.
  • Ondo Rentals / First St. / 3.0 out of 5
  • PanCo Properties / 230 Beechurst Ave. / 2.3 out of 5
  • Riverview Estates / 3028 Grand Central Station Dr.
  • Sunnyside Commons / 235 Jones Ave.
  • Terrace Heights Apartments / 2760 University Ave. / 3.7 out of 5
  • University Prime Properties / 507 Beechurst Ave. / 3.1 out of 5
  • Whetco Enterprises / 263 Grant Avenue.
  • Wincor Properties / 251 Beechurst Ave.

I created the map below with all of the above mentioned apartments marked. Click on a blue mark to see the address and name of the apartment. You can view the full-size version of the map here.

-Leann

Apartment rating websites can be important part of search

I’ll admit that I am big into researching things online before I make a purchase. I’ll read ratings, compare prices, see if there are any special codes for an extra percentage off or free shipping. But for some reason, I never thought to look at apartment ratings before finding a new place to live.

If you’re going to sign a lease to live somewhere for at least a year, it’s probably a good idea to see what other people are saying about the place. Sometimes a nice place can be ruined by the fact that maintenance takes forever to fix things. Or a place may look dirty on the outside, but the inside is taken well care of and in great condition.

The website I found with the most ratings for Morgantown apartments was apartmentratings.com. What’s nice is that you don’t necessarily have to read all of the reviews to get the gist of how tenants feel. Here’s an example:

By looking at the bottom bar, you can see that parking is rated pretty high, while the office staff has received low ratings. It also shows whether pets are permitted, which is important to many people. Out of 47 reviews, The District Apartments received a rating of two out of five. When you click on “The District Apartments” link, it’ll go into a little more detail of how that score was determined.

Parking, maintenance, construction, noise, grounds, safety and office staff ratings make up the final score.

Below the overall score, you can find the user reviews, and a list of tabs with other features.

I suggest that you actually read some of the ratings instead of basing it off of the score to determine the main issues. Some reviews appear to just say, “Stay away” or “NO,” but that’s the subject link that will take you to a full review.

Another nice feature is under the “floorplans” tab where you can find how much rent is, as reported by users.

 You’ll notice next to floorplans, there’s a tab for safety. Safety doesn’t seem to report on crime rates, only if there are any registered sex offenders living in the area. This information is provided by Family Watchdog.

I did find a couple other websites where apartments are rated, but they didn’t  have as many reviews as Apartment Ratings. The other websites are:

One other website that might be helpful in the search for an apartment is  Morgantown Apartments Guide. This site doesn’t have any ratings listed, but it does list locations of apartments and whether they’re pet friendly. It also lists a contact number and web address. However you have to hover over the “WWW” button to see the address, you can’t just click on it to go there.

Before you leave, would you mind letting answering the poll question? Voters are anonymous.

Thanks!

-Leann