Coroner: Benedict College student bled to death after childbirth

Published: Sep. 5, 2013 at 1:18 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 15, 2013 at 1:18 PM EDT
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Ayaanah Gibson (Source: Facebook)
Ayaanah Gibson (Source: Facebook)

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - Authorities say a 19-year-old student who died on the campus of Benedict College bled to death after giving birth to a stillborn fetus inside her dorm room.

Richland County Coroner Gary Watts said the student, who has been identified as Ayaanah Gibson, was approximately 32 weeks pregnant and had a natural, spontaneous childbirth sometime Saturday or early Sunday.

Gibson's body was not found until Tuesday in her dormitory room, a residence she did not share with anyone else. Watts said the child was also deceased and was not alive at birth.

The initial South Carolina Law Enforcement Division investigation found no signs of foul play.

Watts said if Gibson had requested medical assistance following the delivery, she would have survived.

The coroner did not speculate about why the freshman did not call 911 to seek assistance, but said Gibson's family in California did not know she was pregnant, and she may not have known either.

Each student at Benedict College pays a health fee at registration that gives them access to the on-campus health center, which offers general medical care, gynecological care and referral service to specialists.

Authorities haven't found evidence that Gibson had any prenatal care.

Students and faculty at the school's annual fall convocation on Thursday paused for a moment of silence to remember Gibson along with other fallen members of the Benedict family.

Students were also passing around a large poster board card sharing their thoughts about Gibson. Counselors were made available to students Thursday morning.

On Wednesday, Benedict College issued a statement mourning Gibson.

"The Benedict College family is deeply saddened this evening about the unexpected loss of one of its students. Please join the Benedict College family in praying for our fallen Tiger and her family. President David H. Swinton along with the Campus Minister, Student Government Leaders, and the Director of Campus Counseling spoke with students this evening in Antisdel Chapel about the unfortunate incident. After the meeting everyone in the Chapel held hands and prayed together as a family."

Gibson was majoring in chemistry. The college listed her hometown as Sacramento, California.

Benedict Collage, a private, liberal arts institution, was founded in 1870 and lists an enrollment of approximately 3,200 students.

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