Berry mourns unexpected loss of student

A prayer vigil was held in David Shankles’s honor Tuesday at 5 p.m. in the College Chapel.

Viking Fusion and Campus Carrier staffs.

UPDATED October 13, 2017

David Shankles, the Berry sophomore who died abruptly and mysteriously Tuesday, had a congenital heart defect, according to Facebook post published by his brother Andrew. Whether this pre-existing condition led to or caused his death, however, remains unknown. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) reported Friday that it “could not come to any definitive results” on the basis of an autopsy conducted this week, Floyd County Coroner Gene Proctor said.

Potentially conclusive results from the autopsy could become available anywhere between two weeks and two months, Proctor said.

A funeral for Shankles will be held at Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tenn. at 7 p.m. on Friday, October 13. Bus transportation for the Berry community to the funeral is available by signing up here:

A memorial service in the Berry College Chapel is also planned for Thursday, October 19. Shankles’s parents will be in attendance, according to an email from Dean of Students Debbie Heida.

The U.S. flags at Berry will remain at half-mast during his funeral on Friday and during the service on Thursday, Heida said.

The Shankles family requested that donations in Shankles’s honor, in lieu of flowers, be made to Berry College and/or to Young Life of Rome.

UPDATED October 11, 2017

Tuesday night hundreds of students and Rome community members joined in the College Chapel to mourn the loss of sophomore David Shankles.

Shankles’s roommate found him unresponsive on the floor of their room in Dana Hall Tuesday around 2 p.m., according to Floyd County Coroner Gene Proctor. First responders arrived and used an automated external defibrillator and then applied cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). He was transported to Redmond Hospital and pronounced dead at 2:59 p.m. Proctor saw no evidence to make an exact call on the cause of death. Dean Heida released a statement informing the Berry community about the death and the prayer vigil.

At the Tuesday night vigil, two hours after Shankles’s death, David Elmer, assistant professor of kinesiology, led those in attendance in song and College Chaplain Jonathan Huggins read scripture. Huggins encouraged people to support each other during this time.

Berry College posted a statement to Facebook for family, friends, and students.

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The Berry Track and Field and Cross-Country team tweeted asking for prayer and support during this time.

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Proctor called for an autopsy by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation crime lab in Atlanta because he “could not locate a definitive reason to confirm a cause of death,” nor was there evidence of what happened at the scene.

The autopsy results should be available sometime Friday, according to Proctor.



MOUNT BERRY, Ga.- At 4 p.m. Tuesday, October 10, 2017, Dean Heida released a statement notifying the Berry community that sophomore David Shankles “died suddenly this afternoon.”

Shankles was from Knoxville, Tenn. and ran for both the Berry Cross-Country and Track and Field teams. He was named to the SAA Academic Honor Roll in 2017 and won fourth place at the April SAA Outdoor Championships in the 3000m Steeplechase.

Shankles was a Biology major with a pre-medicine concentration.

First responders arrived at Dana Hall around 2 p.m. after a call about an unresponsive student. Shankles was taken off-campus at that time by Redmond ambulance.

A prayer vigil will be held in Shankles’s honor Tuesday at 5 p.m. at the College Chapel.

This story will be updated throughout the evening. 

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