Family of Brendan Santo pushes for changes, safety on MSU campus

Family of Brendan Santo pushes for changes, safety on MSU campus
Published: Jan. 24, 2022 at 5:28 PM EST|Updated: Jan. 24, 2022 at 5:43 PM EST
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The family of Brendan Santo is asking for changes on Michigan State University’s campus to prevent another death in the Red Cedar River.

The body of Santo -- who went missing while visiting Michigan State University in October -- was recovered Friday from the Red Cedar River.

The teenager’s family has been circulating a petition asking MSU to install fencing in the areas where the Red Cedar River runs through campus. As of Monday afternoon, the petition has more than 13,000 signatures.

Konnie Gill said words can’t begin to describe what the Santo family is experiencing, but it’s a heartbreak she knows all too well.

“It will be 21 years this year,” Gill said. “He went down on a Friday afternoon to Lansing with his buddies.”

Gill’s son, Eric Blair, was 18 when he drowned in the Red Cedar River after a night at MSU. In October 2001, Blair was separated from his friends before his death.

“He slid down a hill or something right by a bridge and he went into the Red Cedar River,” Gill said. “They found him four days later.”

Following the death of Santo, the family is circulating a petition to make MSU install a fence around the river and to add more barriers, lights and cameras to prevent more tragedies.

Related: MSU President: Cameras were not working when Brendan Santo went missing

“If they truly believe that putting an effort in to having a petition signed to put up fences, then that’s what they should do,” Gill said.

Since Blair’s death, Gill has dedicated her time to educating students about the importance of campus safety. She said it’s a topic that isn’t spoken about enough on campus.

Gill said it shouldn’t take a tragedy like Santo or Blair’s death to make campus safer.

“The responsibility lays at their feet too,” Gill said. “To do something to protect their own students.”

The petition said the goal is to make MSU a safer place in memory of Santo.

“We all miss Eric every single day and my heart just bleeds for the Santo family,” Gill said.

To find out more information on the petition, or to sign it, visit its official page here.

Michigan State University said it will continue conversations about these particular spaces and are looking at additional measure to make it safer.

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