‘Our Hearts Are Shattered’—Family Speaks Out After College Student Dies in Dorm Following COVID-19 Infection

The family of a 20-year-old college student who died after experiencing COVID-19 symptoms is begging for others to take the virus seriously.

Bethany Nesbitt, a student at Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana, was found dead in her dorm room on October 29.

“Our hearts are shattered,” her brother, Stephen Nesbitt, a sportswriter for The Athletic, wrote on Twitter Tuesday, sharing a photo of his “sweet sister.”

“The cause of death was a pulmonary embolism—the result of a blood clot—widely recognized as a common cause of death in COVID-19 patients,” he added.

According to a statement from her family, the 20-year-old had been experiencing COVID-19 symptoms for about 10 days and was awaiting a test result as she began quarantining in her dorm room.

Just three days before her death, Bethany, who had asthma, was taken to the emergency room due to a drop in her oxygen levels.

“An emergency room doctor determined that Bethany very likely had COVID-19, but it was not a severe case and she seemed to be recovering,” he said in his tweet, adding that his sister returned to her single-room dorm to quarantine.

“On Oct. 28, she told her family that she had been fever-free for 24 hours and her oxygen levels were normalizing,” her brother wrote in the family statement. “She was encouraged.”

Two days later she was found dead in her dorm room.

A COVID-19 test Bethany took on Oct. 29 later came back as positive. But Kosciusko County Coroner Anthony Ciriello ruled Tuesday that her official cause of death was a blood clot, not COVID-19, which he says contributed to her death, but did not cause it.

Bethany, a third-year psychology major from Grand Ledge, Michigan was on track to graduate  from Grace College in May. She planned to become a child-life specialist for sick and disabled children.

“Bethany loved Jesus. She was a selfless and loving friend, a source of constant encouragement to all those around her. She had a passion for helping others, especially children, and her sassy sense of humor and wonderful laugh put them at ease,” the family said in the statement.

The youngest of nine children, Bethany will be terribly missed.

“There will be an empty seat at our table the next time our family comes together — and every time after that,” the family statement read. “This loss is forever.”

Ultimately, the grieving family is begging others to take the virus seriously.

“We speak out not to spread fear, but to encourage others to exercise enormous caution as COVID-19 cases continue to rise. Please don’t assume that young people will not be impacted by this virus. Bethany was careful. She wore her mask. She socially distanced,” the statement said. “We plead with you to take this virus seriously. And we pray for your health and safety in this holiday season.”

The family has set up a scholarship in Bethany’s honor, which they hope to use to bless students with similar dreams and financial needs. They have raised nearly $25,000 in since launching the fund just two days ago.


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Bri Lamm
Bri Lamm is the Editor of ForEveryMom.com! An outgoing introvert with a heart that beats for adventure, she lives to serve the Lord, experience the world, and eat macaroni and cheese all while capturing life’s greatest moments on one of her favorite cameras. Follow her on Facebook!