Sacramento woman, 19, dies after giving birth at college

Published: Friday, Sep. 6, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 1B
Last Modified: Friday, Sep. 6, 2013 - 6:30 am

A recent Sacramento high school graduate, barely a month into her freshman year at a Baptist college in South Carolina, died after delivering a stillborn baby in her single dorm room, authorities reported.

Sacramento Charter High School grad Ayaanah Gibson, 19, was found dead Tuesday in the room, authorities said.

Gibson died from blood loss at Benedict College in Columbia, S.C., said Richland County Coroner Gary Watts.

Reached at Gibson's mother's house in Oak Park on Thursday night, a woman who described herself as "like a sister," said family members were grieving and not prepared to discuss her death.

The woman, Ebony White, said Gibson had a 3.5 GPA and a full-ride scholarship and that she seemed to be making friends at the school. She was majoring in communications and loved to write, White said.

"I'll always remember her infectious smile," White said. "She was very loving. She had a great heart."

At the time of delivery, likely three days before her body was found, Gibson was about 32 weeks pregnant, Watts said.

Officials said no foul play was suspected.

"The Benedict College family is deeply saddened this evening about the unexpected loss of one of its students," officials at the small, historically black liberal-arts college said in a statement shortly after Gibson's death became known. "Please join the Benedict College family in praying for our fallen Tiger and her family."

Benedict College students gathered Tuesday evening in the campus chapel in her memory, the statement said.

School President David H. Swinton – along with the campus minister, student government leaders and the campus counseling director – offered remarks at the ceremony.

The chapel remained open throughout the night for those seeking "a quiet place to reflect and pray," the officials said. The next morning, counselors spent time with undergraduates.

Gibson began her freshman year last month as a chemistry major, according to her Facebook page.

In Sacramento, Gibson spent her freshman year at Florin High School, Elk Grove Unified School District spokeswoman Elizabeth Graswich said.

Jim Scheible, superintendent of St. HOPE Public Schools, said Gibson later enrolled at Sacramento Charter High School, where she graduated in June.

The charter school is run by the nonprofit St. HOPE.

Administrators at the high school are offering counseling to students and staff members, Scheible said.

"We had a handful of students who have utilized those services," he said.

Scheible declined to give further details about Gibson's time at the charter high school, citing a desire to provide privacy to her friends and family.

In a July 31 Facebook post, Gibson was reflective about her bittersweet departure for college.

"3 more days til im off to college," she wrote. "I'm going to be very sad & excited to leave."

Less than two weeks later, on Aug. 11, Gibson posted, "I miss California. South Carolina is something else I tell you."

When a Facebook friend observed, "You just got there, and you ready to come home already?" Gibson responded, "No. I just miss cali weather. Lol."

Authorities declined to speculate why Gibson did not seek medical attention.

© Copyright The Sacramento Bee. All rights reserved.


Call The Bee's Kurt Chirbas, (916) 321-1030.



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