A 19-year-old student in the Compensatory Education program on the campus of Mount Airy High School collapsed in the gym and was later pronounced dead.
Aaron Dowdy, a graduate of Mount Airy High School, was a student in the Surry Community College Comp-Ed program. He fell unresponsive while shooting hoops with other students in the program, according to John Shelton, director of Surry County Emergency Services. He said SCC personnel immediately started CPR on Dowdy until paramedics, fire and rescue personnel could arrive at the school.
Rescue personnel continued resuscitation while transporting Dowdy to Northern Hospital of Surry County, where he was pronounced dead at 1:29 p.m., Shelton said.
The initial call came into the 911 center at 12:43 p.m. Shelton said it was reported as a seizure.
He said after speaking with doctors and the family, it was decided that an autopsy would not be necessary in this case.
Dr. Greg Little, superintendent of Mount Airy City Schools, said while Dowdy was on campus when he fell ill, he was not a student at Mount Airy High School. He said as a graduate, he was well liked and will be missed.
“Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family. He was well thought of. It certainly is a sad day for Mount Airy High School,” said Little.
He said there will be counselors at the school for students who need help in dealing with the loss of Dowdy.
Marion Venable, the public information officer with SCC, said Dowdy was enrolled in the Creating Successful Learners (CSL) program, which is an arm of the Comp-Ed program.
“These students have completed their education in the public schools and we found that there really wasn’t a program that fit their needs,” said Venable of the CSL program. That’s when the college started the CSL program.
She said the program is designed for developmentally disabled students that function at a number of levels. It is for adults who have special learning needs or who have a traumatic brain injury, Venable said.
“We work with students to improve life skills. They are able to function independently and our goal for them is to prepare them for a job,” Venable said.
Instructor Diane Barnett was with Dowdy when he collapsed, Venable said.
Dowdy had just enrolled in the program on Oct. 8.
“He was new to the program and was really enjoying it. He was well liked by the students and instructors,” Venable said.
She said there will be counselors at the school tomorrow to speak with the students and help them cope with their loss.
Reach Mondee Tilley at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 719-1930.