Sleep Disorders

Jarod's mother says she had already ruled out depression and suicide.

Dream and Reality Collide

If not suicide, then what had prompted Jarod to walk, in just boxer shorts in the middle of winter, a quarter-mile from his college apartment onto a four lane highway?

Harris told Jarod's mother that he had been dreaming recently.

"He had a dream that some guys was chasing him and he just had to get to Bertram," he said.

Allgood says she's familiar with that recurring dream. "He was running a race with a man from Bertram. And Bertram was down that road."

That's when Allgood realized that Jarod's dream and his reality had collided.

Although, it's impossible to know with any certainty what was going through Jarod's brain when he ran toward his death, evidence suggests that sleepwalkers may have a heightened pain threshold.

Allgood says his son would even get sick in his sleep and never wake up.

"There have been instances where people have actually shot themselves in the leg while sleepwalking and it wasn't 'til the sleepwalking was over that they realized that they'd injured themselves. So, pain is generally not perceived or minimally perceived during sleep," Mahawold said.

Though Mahawold believed Jarod's behavior that night was consistent with sleepwalking, local authorities were skeptical and there were reports around town that Jarod had committed suicide.

But when Jarod's mother told the coroner that she thought it was sleepwalking, she said the coroner responded, "Only children sleepwalk."

So Jarod's actual death certificate read "undetermined."

Jarod's mother says she argued over the death certificate.

"I said, 'No. It needs to say, uh, 'hit by a truck while sleepwalking. And you need to say in there, why he died,'" she said.

That's when Becky called in Mahowald to help her make her case.

Family History of Sleepwalking

According to Mahowald, the primary determinant of whether someone is going to be a sleepwalker or not is a positive family history. Allwood says all of her kids were sleepwalkers.

Jarod's sleep history, his fateful dreams and his mother's persistence eventually convinced Iowa's Chief Medical Examiner to make a bold decision. Jarod's official cause of death was changed ... to "sleepwalking."

"I believe that it's the first death certificate that's ever -- in this state -- even acknowledged sleep disorders," Allwood said.

Since nearly 4 percent of adults in America sleepwalk, experts now believe there may be other sleepwalking deaths that have been labeled suicide.

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