Aug. 23, 2005
COLUMBIA, Mo. -
The Boone County Medical Examiner has announced that the cause of death for University of Missouri football student-athlete Aaron O'Neal was lymphocytic meningitis - a condition affecting the brain which likely was caused by a virus. It does not appear that environmental conditions, such as heat, or the nature of the physical activities that Aaron participated in on July 12, 2005, were factors in his death.
The Medical Examiner has informed the University that the national Centers for Disease Control will be conducting tests in an attempt to identify the specific virus that led to Aaron's condition. In the meantime, the Medical Examiner has advised the University and members of the football team that there is no apparent reason to believe that any of Aaron's teammates or classmates are at risk of developing meningitis. The Medical Examiner has not recommended any precautions or other measures to be taken at this time, nor has otherwise suggested that there is a public health risk.
Following are statements from Mizzou Head Football Coach Gary Pinkel, Director of Athletics Mike Alden and Chancellor Brady Deaton:
Head Football Coach Gary Pinkel
"Learning of this certainly doesn't ease the pain that Aaron's family and everyone here are feeling. As I am told, this is such an unusual condition for someone who seemed to be so healthy. Our hearts continue to go out to all of Aaron's family, friends and loved ones, and we will continue to focus on honoring his memory."
Director of Athletics Mike Alden
"Now that the Medical Examiner has completed her review, it is certainly very surprising to hear that lymphocytic meningitis was the cause of death. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with Mr. O'Neal and the entire O'Neal family as they continue to deal with Aaron's sudden and tragic loss."
Chancellor Brady Deaton
"It is a terrible loss when we witness a student's untimely death. As a University family, we all mourn when we see such a promising life cut short. We will honor his memory and make sure that we work to assure the well-being of all our students each and every day."