Rhine: CSC student's death "a terrible loss for the school"

A Chadron State College freshman who died over the weekend, apparently of natural causes, is being remembered as a well-liked young man preparing for a career in the medical field.

18-year old Chadron State College student Sterling Atkins of Broken Bow lost consciousness while watching television at his girlfriend's residence in Chadron. College President Dr Randy Rhine calls Atkins' death a terrible loss for the school.

"Sterling was well-known on campus and had many friends here," says Rhine. "He was one of our health professions students, and that's a pretty tight group so he will be missed."

Rhine...who was attending a hockey match in Rapid City when notified of the death...says Atkins had been under the weather the previous couple of days, with his girlfriend having him over Saturday to help him feel better.

Chadron State has a standing plan for counseling services if a student, faculty, or staff member dies, and Rhine says it was activated as soon as officials were notified by authorities.

"Even though it occurred off-campus, (Sterling) lived on campus and Aaron Prestwich, our interim executive director of student affairs, got in touch with our counseling staff and director of housing."

Rhine believes many students took advantage of the chance to talk to counseling staff later Saturday night and Sunday, adding that "it's good we're in a position to be able to provide those kinds of services."

Dawes County Attorney and Coroner Vance Haug scheduled an autopsy and a number of tests for Monday afternoon, but says Atkins' death appears to be the result of a medical condition...with no evidence of drug or alcohol use.

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