Dad finds teen dead on track at school

The father of a Greenbrier High School student found his son dead late Monday on the school's running track, where the young man had been working out to earn a fitness badge needed for Eagle Scout rank.

Kevin Gillen said he found his son Scott, 17, after 10 p.m., lying facedown on the track, Columbia County Coroner Vernon Collins said.

Mr. Gillen, of the 400 block of Armstrong Way in Evans, called 911 and attempted to revive his son with CPR. Emergency responders took Scott to Doctors Hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 12:31 a.m. Tuesday, officials said.

Mr. Gillen "said he was working toward a fitness badge for Eagle Scouts," Deputy Coroner Harriett Garrison said Tuesday. "He rotated running with weightlifting. Last night, he went up to the track to run alone and was gone longer than expected."

When Mr. Gillen arrived at the track, he saw his son's car but couldn't see him. He found Scott collapsed on the surface, Ms. Garrison said.

Scott had a medical history of asthma, but it was not known if that contributed to his death, Ms. Garrison said. His parents told her Scott had not had asthma-related issues in a long time and was not taking asthma medication.

An autopsy was performed Tuesday, but the results are inconclusive until a toxicology test and tests on tissue samples are conducted, Ms. Garrison said. Those tests can take more than six weeks.

"He was a good-looking fellow; healthy looking," Ms. Garrison said. "I guess we just don't ever know."

School officials said Tuesday that counselors were available for students. Additional counseling might be necessary for a student body and community suffering from multiple recent tragedies, Columbia County school board member Mike Sleeper said.

Greenbrier football player Chris Smith, 17, drowned during a July outing at Thurmond Lake. Later that month, Greenbrier band member Haley Van Pelt suffered serious injuries during a car accident. Haley was moved this month to Atlanta-based Shepherd Center from Medical College of Georgia Hospital, according to www.caringbridge.org.

Schools Superintendent Charles Nagle said his office will continue to monitor the mood of students and faculty at Greenbrier.

"It's hard to imagine, as adults, the loss of someone so young," Mr. Nagle said. "The whole community is suffering right now."

Reach Donnie Fetter at (706) 868-1222, ext. 115, or donnie.fetter@augustachronicle.com.