Local News

NCCU Student's Death Might Be Linked to Meningitis

Posted April 8, 2008
Updated April 9, 2008

— The Durham County Health Department was investigating the death Tuesday of a North Carolina Central University student.

Canon Tyrell Fuller, a senior history major from Lincolnton, collapsed while working at a Durham group home Monday night. The 21-year-old never regained consciousness and died Tuesday morning.

Public health officials said they suspect Fuller had meningitis, but they haven't confirmed the diagnosis.

As a precaution, NCCU on Tuesday sent information to students about meningitis, an inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord.

As the investigation into Fuller's death continues, the loss is being felt beyond campus.

"He was just a very positive person to be around. ... He was just a real cool person to talk too and laugh with,” NCCU student Brittney Barksdale said.

Fuller was a resident assistant at a dormitory – Campus Crossing.

"Everybody is just trying to stay strong for him and his family,” Barksdale said.

"Ever since I could talk, we've been talking,” cousin Julius Smith said of Fuller.

The cousins were only months apart in age.

"After I cried a little bit, I got some sort of peace over it and I believe it was him telling me that he was alright,” Smith said.

Smith said Fuller volunteered a lot and was deeply involved with his church.

"I know he's in a better place right now. I'm going to miss him,” he said.

Fuller, who would have graduated from NCCU next month, planned to be a teacher. He wanted to "graduate from school, like he was supposed to next month, and be active in the community,” Smith said.

The university is offering counseling to students saddened by Fuller's death. NCCU asked students with questions about meningitis to contact NCCU Student Health and Counseling Services .

Meningitis strikes as many as 3,000 Americans each year and is responsible for approximately 300 deaths. Between 100 and 125 of  the meningitis cases occur on college campuses, and five to 15 students there die from the disease.


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  • FromClayton Apr 9, 2008

    Oh yeah, oldschool. you are right. i forgot that part. so it wouldn't have mattered in this case. Still not a bad idea though. And yes, this young man seems to be a big loss to our community. I am sure he will be missed.

  • oldschooltarheel Apr 9, 2008

    Meningitis vaccine is effective only in the case of bacterial meningitis (Neisseria) - not viral.
    Poor good young man. My deepest sympathies to his family who have lost such a decent young man. What a loss to our community as well.

  • FromClayton Apr 9, 2008

    That's so sad to loose such a great kid. Just like Eve Carson, there is so much more good in this world he could have accomplished. My thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family.

    and yes there is a meningitis vaccine. I got one before I became an RA at App. Close quarters and you spend large amounts of time with each and every student on your hall. Maybe colleges should look into giving it out for free to at least the RA’s.

  • R.O.BdaCZAR Apr 9, 2008

    Something touches my heart about this. Rest in peace.

  • lovinlife2010 Apr 9, 2008

    My thoughts and prayers are with this family! So sad!

  • Meandmytwo Apr 9, 2008

    My prayers and heart are with the family. He seems to have been a very good young man. R.I.P. my brother!! God bless the family also.

  • SuperNupe Apr 9, 2008

    meningitis is a bacterial infection of the meninges in the brain, commonly caused when the bacteria that lives in your nose moves into your bloodstream and infect the meninges, its fatal in 25% of adults, and is common in college for students who live in close quarters, such as dorm... onset of meningitis can be from a previous viral infection, such as the common cold...

    **Mader's Anatomy and Physiology 6th edition**

    Wow, that's scary...

  • Jh5230 Apr 9, 2008

    How devastating for this poor guy and his family. A life cut too short. My condolences to his family and friends. :(

  • unchick Apr 9, 2008

    so young, so sad! what causes meningitis?

  • fyiarp Apr 9, 2008

    Very sad to lose someone who would be such a positive influence, and so young.

    Seems like a good opportunity to enlighten the public about menningitis, yet I still know very little about it. Too bad WRAL didn't post more information about it.