Greenville, N.C. — A 21-year-old student at East Carolina University died early Wednesday after being impaled by a fence post behind University Manor Apartments on East 10th Street, Greenville police said.
Investigators said Jonathan Scott Bennett, of Wilson, was walking across a downed tree in the woods behind the complex about 1 a.m. when he slipped, fell 6 to 8 feet and landed on a waist-high metal post sticking out of the ground.
The post was apparently there as part of a debris fence that had been in place since the apartment complex was constructed, police said.
Authorities said Bennett was impaled from the lower left back to upper right chest, and investigators believe he died almost instantly. An autopsy will be performed.
Bennett had been hanging out on the overturned tree with four friends before getting up to return to the apartments. His friends attempted to help him but were unsuccessful.
No foul play is suspected in Bennett's death, but police said the group had been drinking.
Bennett, a geographic information science and technology student, enrolled at ECU in 2010 after graduating from Fike High School. Former teachers and classmates said he meant the world to them.
"It's kind of like losing that family member that makes your world go round," Bennett's friend, Stephen Pender, said. "I still don't believe it right now."
Chorus teacher Kathy Sherrod said Bennett had a passion and knack for music and had a distinguished high school career, having attended the North Carolina Governor's School. By his senior year, he was president of the school's chorus program.
"He was a good guy, an all-around good guy," Sherrod said. "He had everything going for him."