19-year-old App State student described as ‘super healthy’ dies from COVID-19 complications

Updated: Sep. 30, 2020 at 12:09 AM EDT
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BOONE, N.C. (WBTV) - A 19-year-old student at Appalachian State University who was described by his mother as “super healthy,” has died from complications related to COVID-19, according to the university.

Appalachian State University’s Chancellor sent a message saying 19-year-old student Chad Dorrill had passed away.

On Tuesday afternoon, Appalachian State Chancellor Sheri Everts shared a message about Dorrill’s death.

“Dear Faculty, Staff, Students, Parents, and Families, It is with the deepest sadness that I share with you that one of our students, Chad Dorrill, has died. The hearts of the entire Appalachian Community are with Chad’s family and loved ones during this profoundly difficult and painful time. Tributes shared by friends and loved ones show the positive impact Chad had on the communities he loved and called home, which included App State and Boone. Chad’s family has shared he had been diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier this month and suffered from later complications. Chad lived off-campus in Boone and all of his classes were online. When he began feeling unwell earlier this month, his mother encouraged him to come home, quarantine, and be tested for COVID-19. After testing positive for COVID-19 in his home county, he followed isolation procedures and was cleared by his doctor to return to Boone. It was after his return to Boone that he had additional complications, was picked up by his family and hospitalized. His family’s wishes are for the university to share a common call to action so our entire campus community recognizes the importance of following COVID-19 safety protocols and guidelines, Chancellor Everts wrote.

Chad’s mother Susan made a public post following her son’s death in which she described how the virus affected her son.

“As our family suffers this incredible loss, we want to remind people to wear a mask and quarantine if you test positive even without symptoms," she wrote. "You have no idea who you can come in contact with that the virus affects differently. Chad was just incredibly tired for two weeks and little did we know it was secretly attacking his body in a way they have never seen before. The doctors said that Chad is the rarest 1-10,000,000 case but if it can happen to a super healthy 19-year-old boy who doesn’t smoke, vape, or do drugs, it can happen to anyone.”

Chad Dorrill was a 2019 graduate of Ledford Senior High in Thomasville and was studying to become a physical therapist at Appalachian State University, according to Emily Lipe, the superintendent of Davidson County Schools.

“Chad Dorrill was a loved and well-respected member of the Ledford community and the Class of 2019," Lipe said in a statement. "He was an All-Conference basketball player during his years at LHS, who was both competitive and kind. He was enrolled at Appalachian State University in hopes of becoming a physical therapist. Our deepest and most heartfelt sympathy is extended to Chad’s family, friends, and the entire Ledford community.”

Tonia Maxcy, a teacher at Ledford High and a close friend of the Dorrill family described Chad as a “kind and gentle soul…that kid that brings kindness back to the surface where it should be.”

Maxcy saw Chad on Monday. She said that when it comes to the fact that he died from COVID-19, “...he gives us a face, he gives us a life, and that’s what’s important. Chad is our WHY."

App student Reese Yaudes says she grew up with him in Ledford and was on the sidelines as a cheerleader while Dorrill played basketball.

“He was the sweetest person I ever met,” she said, “He impacted a lot of people.” She says everyone in the App State community appears stunned by the death.

Dorrill wore the #10 when he played high school basketball for Ledford. On Monday night the scoreboard in the gym was turned on and the #10 was lit in each box.

The Piedmont Pacers made a post on social media saying they were devastated to learn that Dorrill died on Monday night. They say Dorrill was beloved by all his teammates and coaches.

“The Piedmont Pacers family is devastated to learn of the passing of Chad Dorrill, due to complications from COVID-19," the statement read. “This awful disease has taken this young man from everyone far too soon. Chad was an original member of the Piedmont Pacers and we first met him in 2013 after he and his family moved to North Carolina from Wisconsin. We quickly realized what a talented basketball player he was. Most importantly, Chad was beloved by all of his teammates and coaches and possessed all of the qualities that any parent would love to see in their child,” the Pacers said. “His parents, Robert and Susan, were a constant presence at Pacers games and their kindness and support helped to create a family-like atmosphere. Our hearts go out to them and we cannot imagine the pain they are going through right now,” the post read.

Appalachian State Chancellor Sheri Everts continued in her message with important reminders about the seriousness of the coronavirus.

Everts said despite generally being at lower risk for severe illness, college-age adults can become seriously ill from COVID-19.

As the school approach the halfway mark to the last day of classes for the Fall semester, the chancellor says they are seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases in students.

“We have stringent cleaning and safety protocols in place on campus, and our students, faculty and staff are following the 3Ws by wearing face coverings, maintaining 6 feet of distance from one another and washing and sanitizing their hands and work stations. All of us must remain vigilant with our safety behaviors wherever we are in our community. We can flatten the curve, but to do so, we must persevere. From the smallest acts to the most important personal relationships, we must actively work each day to reduce the spread of this highly communicable disease,” Chancellor Everts wrote

The chancellor advised everyone to remember that gatherings are limited to 25 people indoors and 50 outdoors, and that in those settings, it is still critically important to maintain distance and wear face coverings.

“The university and the Town of Boone are enforcing these restrictions, and each of us must take seriously our personal responsibility as well. With grace and with kindness, let’s help one another to follow these important safety precautions. Information about prevention and testing options is available on the university’s coronavirus website, where we also post the weekly campus email updates,” Chancellor Everts wrote.

Everts ended her statement with a message of dedication for Chad Dorrill.

“In condolences to his family, many have shared their memories of Chad and said, “I wear my mask for Chad.” Please let us all honor Chad and his contributions by taking care of ourselves and our community,” Everts wrote.

Sophie Mead says she did not know Dorrill, but hopes what happened will prompt everyone to take all safety precautions seriously. She already does, she says, because she had covid-19 and recovered.

“It definitely is painful,” she said. Her friends have gotten the message now. “I told them to stay safe because it’s not worth it to get it.”

University of North Carolina System President Peter Hans also issued a statement about Dorrill’s death.

“Any loss of life is a tragedy, but the grief cuts especially deep as we mourn a young man who had so much life ahead. I ache for the profound sadness that Chad Dorrill’s family is enduring right now. My heart goes out to the entire Appalachian State community. Our country is grappling with this continuing crisis on a scale that is difficult to comprehend. That does not diminish the acute pain we feel alongside Chad’s parents, family, and friends, the people whose loss is personal and irreplaceable. Chad’s family asked that this moment stand as a stark reminder of how Covid-19 is deadly serious for all of us, even for otherwise healthy young adults. We have a heightened duty to one another in these extraordinarily trying times, and we all need to remain vigilant. I join his family and Chancellor Everts in urging everyone to follow public health guidance by wearing a mask, washing hands, maintaining physical distance, and limiting gatherings,” Hans said.

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