HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (AP) - A South Carolina university student who died while attending a fraternity event was drinking alcohol when she told her boyfriend she didn’t feel well, collapsed and died.
A Beaufort County Sheriff’s Office report says Caroline Smith, a 20-year-old Furman University sophomore from Atlanta, was found by emergency workers early Saturday laying on the ground at a warehouse that hosts events. Deputies were told by her boyfriend that he was talking to her in the back room of the warehouse when she said she didn’t feel well, according to an incident report. She then “fell to the ground” and was unresponsive.
Her boyfriend performed CPR until medical workers arrived. They continued CPR for several minutes until Smith was pronounced dead.
Her brother, Furman junior Ryan Smith, was present and told deputies his sister didn’t have any medical issues that he was aware of, the report said. Both Smith and her boyfriend said the group was drinking alcohol but not using drugs or narcotics.
An autopsy was performed by the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston Monday but “the cause of death and manner of death is pending per further analysis,” Beaufort County deputy coroner David Ott told the Island Packet. Results could take weeks.
Furman spokesman Vince Moore says the formal event, which had been scheduled for Saturday night by the Kappa Alpha fraternity, had been approved by the university. Once Smith died, the formal was canceled and students returned to the Greenville campus.
“She was well known on campus and liked,” Moore said. “The campus is affected by the loss. It is grieving and we are trying to begin the healing process.”
The Friday night event “was not an official part of the formal,” Moore said.
No charges have been filed.
“The sheriff’s office is investigating circumstances surrounding her death and whether alcohol was obtained by underage persons,” Maj. Bob Bromage said Monday.
The national organization is coordinating and cooperating with the university and authorities, said Jesse Lyons, director for advancement of the national office of Kappa Alpha. He said the fraternity also is coordinating with the university to provide counseling resources for members and to support memorials for Smith.
A memorial service is being planned in Atlanta. The details have not been released.
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