Only a few hours after Ariane Noelle Patterson celebrated her 21st birthday on Jan. 17 by thanking God for giving her another year, the Gardner-Webb University collapsed in her religions class and died.
The tragedy has rocked the Boiling Springs, N.C. community over the past two days, but more disturbing is the fact that no report about the religion major's cause of death has yet been released, leaving her tragic passing a mystery to her loved ones.
Patterson Collapses in Class
A spokesman for the private Christian college, Noel Manning said Patterson was in her religion class after lunch when she collapsed to the floor.
A nearby student who was trained emergency medical technician gave her CPR until the paramedics arrived while her classmates prayed in the hallway. Patterson died at Cleveland Regional Medical Center in Shelby, N.C.
'Thank you God'
Ariane Noelle Patterson appeared perfectly healthy at the start of Jan. 19, 2012. In fact, she was ecstatic.
The GWU student had just turned 21, and wanted to express how grateful she was for making it this far.
Thank you God for a nother year of life, she posted on Twitter, just hours before going to her religion class.
But the college senior, who was majoring in religious studies and had attended a nearby high school in Rutherford County, was destined not to live past her 21st birthday. And officials and medical examiners are scratching their heads trying to figure out why she died.
Death Still Mystery
Manning reports that Patterson's death is under investigation, but says GWU had no indication that she suffered from chronic health problems.
Medical examiners at the Cleveland Regional Medical Center have declined to comment on cause of death, pending further investigation. Patterson's family has been unavailable for comment.
'It's still not for real... I miss you.
But if the death of the seemingly healthy and always upbeat Ariane Patterson remains a mystery, she is already being immortalized on a Facebook page dedicated to her life.
In Loving Memory of Ariane Noelle Patterson is already beginning to fill up with photos of the GWU student, and friends of the senior have been posted messages on the page's wall for hours.
i remember teaching you how to sign I love you, wrote one poster, who described Patterson as one of her closest friends.
I didn't even get to hug you because I was sick and tell you that I loved you. I miss you bestie <3 I'm going to try and be strong. You would want me too.
It's still not real, another wrote, calling Patterson by her nickname Ari.
Lord willing, I'm still gonna give my first daughter your middle name, she posted, calling Patterson a role model like Paul from the Gospels.
I love you, she ended. I miss you.
#PrayersforAriane Is Born
Manning, meanwhile, says Patterson's classmates have been coming to him all day, praising the senior's love and exuberance for others and the strength of her faith.
They said she had this outrageous love for Christ and for people, Manning told The Gazette. I really got a sense for how much she was loved.
On Twitter, her friends started a hashtag called #PrayersforAriane, tweeting memories of her contagious smile and beautiful soul.
As of this writing, the reason for Patterson's tragic and untimely death is still unknown.
The Facebook page dedicated to her recently announced a celebration of life service for Ariane Patterson to be held Jan. 21. Visitation and memorials will be held at the New Bethel AME Zion Church in Forest City, N.C.