GRAND LEDGE, MI – The family of a 20-year-old college student from Michigan who died after experiencing COVID-19 symptoms is now pleading for others to take the virus seriously.
Bethany Nesbitt of Grand Ledge was found dead in her dorm room at Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana at 10 a.m. on Oct. 30 about ten days after she began experiencing symptoms.
The third-year psychology major had asthma and was previously taken to the emergency room after a drop in her oxygen saturation on Oct. 26. Doctors determined Nesbitt likely had COVID-19, but it was not a severe case and she seemed to be recovering, according to a statement from the family.
“After a complete investigation and autopsy, the cause of death has been ruled natural due to a pulmonary embolus that had not been previously detected,” Kosciusko County Coroner Tony Ciriello said in a statement. “While COVID did play a role in contributing to the death, it was not caused by COVID.”
Nesbitt’s family pointed out, however, that blood clots are “widely recognized as being one of the most common causes of death among COVID-19 patients.”
The family is now encouraging other people to “exercise enormous caution” as COVID-19 cases continue to rise across the United States.
“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 urge you to follow health officials’ protocols and precautions. 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.”
Nesbitt’s brother, Stephen, is a reporter for the Athletic. He sent out several statements on behalf of the family.
Nesbitt, the youngest of nine children, was pursuing a career as a Child Life Specialist, helping children and families navigate the process of illness, injury, disability, trauma, or hospitalization.
She had photos of family and friends taped to her dorm room wall and loved memes, the family said. She will be remembered as a “selfless and loving friend” who loved Jesus and was a source of constant encouragement to others, the family said, as well as her passion for helping others, especially children, her sassy sense of humor and her laugh.
The family has set up a memorial scholarship in Nesbitt’s name that will be used to provide scholarships to students with similar dreams and financial needs. It has raised more than $19,500 as of Wednesday afternoon.
“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,” Grace College President Dr. Bill Katip said in a statement.
“We are also working with the family to honor Bethany’s legacy. She will always be remembered for her joyful spirit, her love for the Lord and others and her positive impact on campus.”
“It is in times like these that our only sure and true comfort comes from knowing the Lord, the God of all creation. I am reminded of what the psalmist says in Psalm 73: ‘My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.’”
Katip said Grace College’s “detailed protocol and procedures” were followed in the care of Nesbitt, who was provided a single dorm room at no cost to the family, according to their statement.