Coronavirus: Otherwise healthy college student dies of COVID-19-linked neurological complications

BOONE, N.C. — An Appalachian State University student and basketball player died Monday night of apparent neurological complications related to the novel coronavirus.

Chad Dorrill, 19, a sophomore exercise science major, died Monday night at Forsyth Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, WSOC reported.

Family members told The New York Times that Dorrill was “in tremendous shape” prior to his Sept. 7 COVID-19 diagnosis and that an emergency room physician characterized the complications as a “one-in-a-million” case.

Dorrill had been living off-campus in Boone and taking virtual classes when he fell ill with flu-like symptoms. Following his diagnosis, he quarantined with his family in Wallburg but developed “dramatic” neurological problems after returning to Boone, his uncle, David Dorrill, told the newspaper.

“When he tried to get out of bed, his legs were not working, and my brother had to carry him to the car and take him to the emergency room. … It was a (COVID-19) complication that rather than attacking his respiratory system attacked his brain,” David Dorrill said.

According to WSOC, Dorrill’s parents spoke exclusively to “Good Morning America” about their son and his tragic passing in a bid to raise awareness about the seriousness of the virus, regardless of age or physical fitness.

“He made such a significant difference in other people’s lives ... beyond our wildest dreams -- that’s the message we want to get out is this thing can turn very tragic very fast,” the Dorrills told the program.

An autopsy is being performed in the hopes doctors and infectious disease specialists can determine why the virus progressed so quickly, WSOC reported.

According to the Times, only a handful of deaths among U.S. college students has been linked to the virus, including that of a football player at California University of Pennsylvania. The newspaper’s own database tracking COVID-19 on college campuses has recorded at least 130,000 confirmed cases since the start of the pandemic but only about 70 confirmed deaths, and the majority of those were in the spring, primarily among college employees.


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