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College student found dead in her dorm after testing positive for coronavirus

Bethany Nesbitt, 20, was found dead in a residence hall at Grace College in Indiana. The coroner said Covid-19 was a contributing factor while the cause of death was a pulmonary embolus.

A college student in Indiana died in her dorm room after testing positive for the coronavirus, school officials and her family said.

Bethany Nesbitt, 20, was found dead in a residence hall at Grace College, an evangelical Christian school in Winona Lake, about 40 miles northwest of Fort Wayne, around 10 a.m. Friday, the school said in a statement.

A Kosciusko County coroner said that Nesbitt tested positive for the virus and her cause of death was ruled "natural due to a pulmonary embolus that had not been previously detected," according to the school's statement. A pulmonary embolus is a blockage of an artery in the lungs, most commonly from a blood clot.

Coroner Tony Ciriello said Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus, was a contributing role in Nesbitt's death.

Image: Bethany Nesbitt
Bethany Nesbitt.via Grace College

Her brother, Stephen Nesbitt, a sportswriter for The Athletic, released a statement on Twitter on behalf of the family. He said that his sister began experiencing Covid-19 symptoms the week before her death and later tested positive for the virus, but she never received the results because of a clerical error.

A few days before her death, Bethany Nesbitt, who had asthma, was taken to the emergency room due to a drop in her oxygen saturation level.

"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. "She was encouraged."

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

Stephen Nesbitt said the family is heartbroken about the death, but wanted to encourage people to take the proper safety precautions.

"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. We plead with you to take this virus seriously. And we pray for your health and safety in this holiday season."

Her father, Steve Nesbitt, remembered her as a "selfless and loving friend" and "a 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," Steve Nesbitt wrote on the Facebook page for ULAT, a language-education program he created.

Bethany Nesbitt, of Grand Ledge, Michigan, and the youngest of nine children, was studying psychology at Grace College and planned on becoming a child-life specialist for sick and disabled children, the school said. She was on track to graduate in May.

“Grace College students, faculty and staff continue to pray for the Nesbitt family and mourn the loss of a beloved classmate and friend, Bethany Nesbitt. We are also working with the family to honor Bethany’s legacy," college President Bill Katip said in a statement. "She will always be remembered for her joyful spirit, her love for the Lord and others and her positive impact on campus."