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Washington • The rooftop boasts a manicured lawn, sets of patio chairs and even trees. Seven floors above an up-and-coming neighborhood in Northwest Washington, the social setting beckons the building's residents, which includes about 20 Utah students interning in the nation's capital.
Early Saturday morning, Eric Wright, the son of KSL radio personality Doug Wright, was found dead in an adjacent alley after apparently falling from the top of the apartment building.
Homicide investigators with Washington Metro Police are investigating, though an officer posted to a police listserv that no foul play was suspected. Police would not confirm to reporters that Wright fell and a police report filed is devoid of any details. Officially, the cause of Wright's death is undetermined.
Commenters on a well-read neighborhood blog said neighbors had complained of loud parties on the rooftop, including one the night Wright died.
Kirk Jowers, the head of the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics, which placed Wright on his internship, said police told him they had ruled out homicide and suicide and believe the student just accidentally fell off the roof.
Jowers referred other questions about the death to police but noted that this was the first death of an intern in 5,000 internships the institute has done.
Wright whose brother, Ian, was also in Washington for an internship with the Republican Governors Association had started working in Rep. Rob Bishop's congressional office last week.
"I think Eric had the opportunity to give at least three Capitol tours to constituents and did a phenomenal job," said Jessica Sanford, Bishop's office manager and scheduler. "Everyone who was part of his tour raved at how fun and exciting he made the tour. It was the highlight of their trip."
Whitney Simmons, an intern from Woods Cross and recent graduate of Southern Utah University, said she had heard about Wright's fun-loving personality from his friends before she even met him and the description fit.
"Eric kept me laughing," Simmons said. "He was a bright and vibrant presence in the office. The only surprise was that someone so light-hearted could have such a strong work ethic. He was always the first to volunteer for a job and was the go-to guy about history."
Bishop issued a statement saying Wright's death was "tragic and heartbreaking."
"Although he had just started his internship, he was a great fit and he'll be missed," the congressman said.
Wright was planning to head to New York City next weekend to celebrate his 24th birthday, according to friend and fraternity brother Chase Straight, who lived with Wright previously. He described Wright as the guy who was always fun to be around and was universally kind.
"If there was a party and there was the one weird guy no one would want to talk to, Eric would be the first one over there saying hi," said Straight, who now lives in Dallas. "Eric lived life."
Typically, 20 to 30 Hinckley interns a semester reside in the Park Place apartments on Georgia Avenue.
Students interning through the Hinckley Institute will visit with a grief counselor today, Jowers said.
A viewing for Eric Wright will be held Wednesday evening at the Mt. Olympus LDS Stake Center, with his funeral scheduled for Thursday.