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Town rallies after teen dies at camp

Staff writer

Community members are rallying to offer support for the family of a high-schooler who died Friday at a Christian camp in Colorado.

Garvie Schmidt, deacon at Hillsboro Mennonite Brethren Church, said a medical incident is believed to be Demarius Cox’s cause of death near Westcliffe, Colorado.

His parents, Demetrius and Clara Cox, are in Colorado to take care of necessary tasks and arrange for Demarius’ return to Kansas.

A Cox Family Benefit Fund has been established at Emprise Bank in Hillsboro to assist with expenses. Donations will also be accepted at the church.

Schmidt said the church would make arrangements to assist in other ways.

A list of volunteers is being compiled to provide meals for the family after their return.

“Everyone will definitely be rallying around them,” Schmidt said.

Demarius would have been a high school sophomore when the fall semester began. He was active in football, basketball, track, theater, and band.

“He did well at all of them,” high school principal Clint Corby said. “The thing he really excelled in is a positive outlook toward life.”

Corby said school officials arranged counseling Monday in conjunction with Prairie View so students who wanted to talk about Demarius could do so. School officials also worked with Mennonite Brethren Church to have counseling available Sunday afternoon.

Custer County, Colorado, sheriff Shannon Byerly said the county is awaiting the final autopsy report, which won’t be completed until toxicology results are analyzed.

“He appears to have had a pulmonary embolism,” Byerly said. “He hadn’t been feeling good that day, and on Thursday he’d been sick. He just was feeling poorly, and obviously for good reason.”

Byerly said pulmonary embolisms are “not completely uncommon” for people who live at lower elevations when they visit Custer County. The elevation of Westcliff, Colorado, is 7,867 feet.

“We can’t even put into words how our hearts hurt for the family,” Byerly said.

Byerly said it might take several weeks to have a complete autopsy report.

“We’re hoping they can come home with him in the next few days,” Byerly said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends, and community.”

Last modified June 12, 2019

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