College Student at Grace College in Indiana Dies in Dorm from Pulmonary Embolus with Coronavirus COVID-19 Listed as Contributing Factor

Bethany Nesbitt
Bethany Nesbitt.

A college student at Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana died late October 2020 in her dorm room after testing positive for the coronavirus, according to Grace College school officials and her family. She had not received the results of her positive COVID-19 test because of a clerical error.

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 SARS-CoV-2 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 in an artery in the lungs, that commonly consists of a blood clot.

Kosciusko Coroner Tony Ciriello said Covid-19, the disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, was a contributing role in Nesbitt’s death.

❝ Our hearts are shattered. My sweet sister, Bethany, died as she slept in her dorm room Thursday night. She was 20. She was COVID-19 positive. 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.❞

— @stephenjnesbitt

Bethany’s brother, Stephen Nesbitt, a senior sportswriter for The Athletic (covering Pittsburgh sports), released a statement on Twitter on behalf of the family. He said that Bethany knew there was a certain degree of risk in returning to campus this semester, but her choice was clear: She wanted to return to Grace College. He said is sister began experiencing Covid-19 symptoms the week of October 20, 2020 and later tested positive for the virus. On October 26, 2020, Bethany Nesbitt, who had a history of 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 the statement, adding that his sister returned to her single-room dorm to quarantine for 10 days. The single-dorm had been provided by Grace College at no extra cost.

“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.”

On October 29, she was tested again. She was found dead at 10:00 a.m. on October 30, 2020, and had apparently died in her sleep.

❝ 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. We urge you to follow health officials’ protocols and precautions. We had already canceled our family holiday plans before Bethany got sick. The risks of gathering in large aren’t worth it this year. There will be an empty seat at our table the next time our family comes together — and every time after that. 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.❞

— @stephenjnesbitt

Bethany’s family has chosen to begin a scholarship in Bethany’s memory, to help student with similar dreams and financial needs. A gofundme account was created at gofundme | Bethany Nesbitt Memorial Scholarship Fund …

Bethany Nesbitt
Bethany Nesbitt.

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Medical Research on Coronavirus COVID-19 and Pulmonary Embolism

Griffin DO, Jensen A, Khan M, Chin J, Chin K, Saad J, Parnell R, Awwad C, Patel D. Pulmonary Embolism and Increased Levels of d-Dimer in Patients with Coronavirus Disease. Emerg Infect Dis. 2020 Aug;26(8):1941-1943. doi: 10.3201/eid2608.201477. Epub 2020 Apr 29. PMID: 32348233; PMCID: PMC7392455.

Poissy J, Goutay J, Caplan M, Parmentier E, Duburcq T, Lassalle F, Jeanpierre E, Rauch A, Labreuche J, Susen S; Lille ICU Haemostasis COVID-19 Group. Pulmonary Embolism in Patients With COVID-19: Awareness of an Increased Prevalence. Circulation. 2020 Jul 14;142(2):184-186. doi: 10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.120.047430. Epub 2020 Apr 24. PMID: 32330083.

Bompard F, Monnier H, Saab I, Tordjman M, Abdoul H, Fournier L, Sanchez O, Lorut C, Chassagnon G, Revel MP. Pulmonary embolism in patients with COVID-19 pneumonia. Eur Respir J. 2020 Jul 30;56(1):2001365. doi: 10.1183/13993003.01365-2020. PMID: 32398297; PMCID: PMC7236820.

Miesbach W, Makris M. COVID-19: Coagulopathy, Risk of Thrombosis, and the Rationale for Anticoagulation. Clin Appl Thromb Hemost. 2020 Jan-Dec;26:1076029620938149. doi: 10.1177/1076029620938149. PMID: 32677459; PMCID: PMC7370334.