Airman’s death ruled an accident
AVIANO AIR BASE, Italy — Italian investigators have concluded that an American airman who died in October was fatally injured after jumping from a train that was leaving the Pordenone station, two Italian newspapers reported.
Airman 1st Class Lauren Lagudi, 20, had returned from Rome on a late-night train Oct. 19. She was reported missing when she didn’t show up for work as a broadcaster for American Forces Network radio at Aviano Air Base. Her body was discovered by Italian authorities near the station.
Investigators believe Lagudi realized she had missed her stop and opened a door as the train was pulling away. She threw out her luggage and then jumped off. She apparently hit her head in the process, suffering fatal injuries.
That conclusion was reported Sunday by Il Gazzettino and Messaggero Veneto. Multiple attempts by Stars and Stripes to talk to Italian authorities about the investigation in the past several weeks have been unsuccessful.
First Lt. Kim Schaerdel, chief of public affairs for the 31st Fighter Wing at Aviano, said American personnel had participated in the investigation and referred further questions to the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. OSI officials did not respond Tuesday to requests for information.
According to the newspaper reports, local prosecutor Annita Sorti closed the investigation by ruling out foul play or involvement by any other parties. Italian authorities had initially suggested that they believed the death was an accident or suicide. Investigators then discovered that train personnel found an open door minutes after leaving the station.
Investigators surmised that Lagudi might have fallen asleep on the train and awakened to realize that she was missing her stop, the newspapers reported. The train wouldn’t stop again until it reached Udine — about an hour away — and Lagudi’s car was at the Pordenone station.
Some travelers also have noted that signs identifying the Pordenone stop are hard to see, especially at night. Not all Italian trains have intercom systems announcing every stop, though it is not clear if that was the case with Lagudi’s train.
Lagudi was buried in her native Texas and her family has set up a memorial site online: laurenlagudifoundation.org.
Valentina Lehman provided translation for this report.