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Madison Heights — An Oakland University student who drove his SUV down a barricaded entrance ramp to Interstate 75 and fell through a missing section onto the freeway died of head trauma, according to the Oakland County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Cody Petzold, 21, navigated around the barricades in his 2005 GMC Sierra at around 2:40 a.m. Friday, onto the westbound 12 Mile entrance ramp to south I-75, according to Lt. Tim Pawlowski of the Madison Heights Police Department. He fell about 20 feet to the pavement below.

The official cause of death was “cranial cerebral trauma,” said Mark Giroux, an investigator with the medical examiner’s office. His death was ruled an accident.

A male passenger, who has not been identified, was injured and taken to Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Pawlowski said.

Petzold, a Holly resident, was studying Human Resources at Oakland University and was a resident assistant on campus, according to his Facebook profile. He was a member of the honors college and was the vice president of the university’s Gay Straight Alliance.

"Cody was a highly regarded scholar and student leader at Oakland University and the news of his death has saddened our campus community," Glenn McIntosh, interim vice president for Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, said in a statement Friday. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this most difficult time."

According to police, the ramp was barricaded due to a crash in October in which a truck ran into the overpass.

“There’s a section of the right hand lane that is missing,” Pawlowski said. “He drove into it and fell about 20 feet through the opening.”

The crash caused 12 Mile to be closed between Stephenson Highway and John R but it has since been reopened.

Friday’s crash remains under investigation. Police did not say if alcohol use was a factor.

Petzold is the second OU student to die in the last two months. Chandler Swink, a 19-year-old sophomore and aspiring nursing student, died Nov. 26 after a severe allergic reaction to peanut butter.

TGreenwood@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2023

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