According to the Observer-Reporter, the 21-year-old student was pronounced dead an hour after she was found unresponsive in her room at approximately 3 a.m. Sunday. Investigators announced Monday that medical personnel believe that Clark may have choked on a piece of gum in her sleep. That same day, an autopsy was conducted on Clark, who was described by University athletic director Karen Hjerpe as “a bright student and talented player” whose “smile and personality will be missed.”
The chewing gum theory was confirmed by the Associated Press, which noted that Clark likely inhaled chewing gum into her lungs while she was asleep before being found dead. The 6-foot senior forward’s death appeared to be accidental, as referenced in a preliminary report from medical personnel. California borough police revealed.
Although the results of Clark’s autopsy and blood tests were not immediately released by the Washington County coroner’s office, the AP mentioned that medical personnel indicated Clark aspirated the chewing gum while sleeping.
“Our thoughts today are with the family of Shanice Clark, a senior from Ontario, Canada, who passed away early this morning,” interim University President Geraldine M. Jones announced Sunday. “On behalf of California University of Pennsylvania, I extend my deepest sympathy to all of Shanice’s family and friends. She will be missed by her teammates and coaches, her classmates, and by the entire campus community.”
University officials said they were “deeply saddened” by the death of the 6-foot senior forward, who was redshirting after playing two dozen games for the Vulcans last season.