WINONA LAKE — Bethany Nesbitt’s family has detailed the circumstances leading up to her death last week in a Grace College dorm room and issued a warning about COVID-19.
The 20-year-old Grace student was found dead at Westminster Hall on Friday, Oct. 30. An autopsy by Kosciusko County Coroner Tony Ciriello determined her death was caused by a pulmonary embolism (blood clot) that had not been previously detected.
“While COVID did play a role in contributing to the death, it was not caused by COVID,” Ciriello said in statement.
Nesbitt’s family sent a statement to InkFreeNews on Tuesday, detailing what happened after Bethany started showing symptoms of COVID-19.
“Bethany began experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19 the week of Oct. 20. She was tested for COVID-19 on Oct. 22, and began quarantining in her dorm room. (That test result was never delivered, due to an unknown clerical error),” the statement says in part.
“She was communicating frequently with her adoring parents and siblings as she recovered. 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. We are grateful that Grace provided her with a single dorm room, at no additional cost to our family,” the family said.
“While Bethany was sick, her mother worked with Bethany to monitor her oxygen saturation levels, since Bethany was asthmatic. Bethany was also monitored by campus health officials,” the statement said.
“On Oct. 26, after a drop in her oxygen saturation, Bethany was taken to the emergency room for evaluation. 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. Bethany returned to her dorm room. On Oct. 28, she told her family she had been fever-free for 24 hours and her oxygen levels were normalizing. She was encouraged. On Oct. 29, she was tested again. (The results came back as COVID-positive after her death.) That night, Bethany watched Netflix and went to bed. She was found deceased at 10 a.m. on Oct. 30.”
The family encouraged people to be wary of COVID-19 though that was not the direct result of her death. They noted that a pulmonary embolism is widely recognized as “one of the most common causes of death among COVID-19 patients.”
“We speak out not to spread fear, but to encourage others to exercise enormous caution as COVID-19 cases continue to rise,” the statement said.
“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 groups 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.”
No visitation or funeral is currently planned, though the family mentioned the college’s live-streaming of a memorial service at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 5.
They’ve started fundraising for a scholarship on GoFundMe in memory of Bethany. The scholarship will help those who’re also interested in working in the children’s mental health field, as Bethany was.
The family was more than halfway to its $20,000 goal as of almost 6 p.m. Tuesday. People may donate via www.gofundme.com/f/bethany-nesbitt-memorial-scholarship-fund.
“We are comforted in knowing that Bethany felt cared for and encircled in love in her final days,” the family said.