College student dies while home for Thanksgiving

Posted at 6:56 AM, Dec 02, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-02 09:56:39-05

Nick Brown was a popular 20-year-old college student at Cal Poly who was perfectly healthy until he came home to San Diego for Thanksgiving.

His father, Greg Brown, said Nick came home the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and said he wasn't feeling great.

His parents figured it was the flu, but then came a fever and some unusual symptoms.

"He said 'well, my neck hurts, it hurts the top of my sternum when I breathe in,'" said Greg.

On Thanksgiving day, Nick felt better and took a selfie with his family.

"You would not think that he is sick at all in the picture," his father said.

It turns out, that would be the last picture ever taken of him.

"It was so sudden. He was there with us and then gone in moments," Greg said.

Last Saturday night, Nick had a seizure.

"He was initially clenched up, his eyes were closed but he was breathing."

When EMS arrived, he wasn't breathing at all. He was pronounced dead at the hospital. His family was stunned by how quickly it all happened.

"From the time he first had a fever, about four days," Greg said.

Greg said Cal Poly sent parents an email a few weeks ago alerting them that five students had been diagnosed with viral meningitis, which isn't as dangerous as the life-threatening bacterial meningitis. He said they didn't think anything of it at the time.

They believe Nick died of  bacterial meningitis, but the medical examiner won't be able to confirm that for several weeks.

"I still have conversations with him. I know he's in heaven and I know he's in God's hands now and we'll see him again," his father said.

Nick's college friends set up a memorial fund to help his family pay for funeral expenses.