Local News

NCCU Student's Death Might Be Linked to Meningitis

Posted April 8, 2008 11:23 p.m. EDT
Updated April 9, 2008 12:45 p.m. EDT

— 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.