Appalachian State University student dies, eighth since August

Boone Police reported Saturday that an Appalachian State University student from Charlotte has died, bringing to eight the number of student deaths in the ASU community since classes began in August.

Police said that about 9:45 p.m. Friday, paramedics were called to 325 Yosef Drive, an apartment complex off U.S. 421, where they found Michael Cameron Schmitt, 23, in medical distress. He was taken to Watauga Medical Center where he died.

Of the deaths so far, two have been the result of traffic accidents, four have been ruled as suicides and a medical examiner report is pending on two others, including the latest.

Police said there were no indication of foul play and Schmitt’s death remains under investigation. They released no other details.

ASU, with 18,000 students, has seen an unusual number of student deaths this year, including at least one that happened in Wilmington. According to State Medical Examiner records, only 12 deaths had been reported in Watauga County from 2003-2013 for people ages 17 to 23.

“Sadly, across our nation, college campuses struggle with the deaths of students, and we are not immune to these tragedies,” Sheri Everts, the university’s chancellor, said in a statement Jan. 20. “I ask that we all continue to pull together, and continue supporting one another, as we move into the Spring semester.”

Schmitt, who grew up in south Charlotte, started in 2010 at ASU, which is about 120 miles northwest of Charlotte. Schmitt was a senior, the university said Saturday, majoring in the interdisciplinary field called appropriate technology, which graduates can use in a variety of fields including energy and engineering. Database editor Gavin Off contributed