Asbury student dies after collapsing during pickup rugby game

jpatton1@herald-leader.comOctober 7, 2012 

The campus of Asbury University was shocked this weekend by the sudden death of a student just months away from graduation.

Jeff McMillan, 24, of Florence was playing in a pick-up rugby game on the Wilmore campus when he collapsed about 1:25 p.m. Saturday. Friends who said they were lifeguards performed CPR until an ambulance arrived, said Michael Hughes, Jessamine County coroner. Mr. McMillan was taken to St. Joseph Jessamine in Nicholasville, where Hughes pronounced Mr. McMillan dead about two hours after he collapsed.

Hughes said an autopsy was performed in Frankfort on Sunday, but no cause of death has been determined.

"It appears that it was a natural death," Hughes said. "Obviously it's one of those very tragic cases ... when a young, athletic, apparently healthy individual just collapses suddenly."

On its Facebook page, Asbury University posted a message Saturday, saying the school "is mourning the loss of student Jeff McMillan ... . We are deeply saddened and pray for his family and friends during this time. Jeff lived in Johnson Hall, was a sport management major and diligently served in the physical plant for four years. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him."

The 1,700 students of the private non-denominational Christian school will celebrate Mr. McMillan's life during their regular chapel service at 10 a.m. Monday in Hughes Auditorium, said Brad Johnson, Asbury marketing and communications director.

Mr. McMillan, who would have graduated in December, was "just a huge sports nut — the Cincinnati Reds and Cincinnati Bengals were his teams," Johnson said.

"We are saddened at this tragic event," Sandra C. Gray, Asbury University president, said in a statement. "Our prayers and thoughts are with Jeff's family and friends as we call on the Lord to carry us all through this time of grief."

Mr. McMillan's mother, Jackie, released this statement through Asbury: "Jeff's father and I would really like everyone to know how much Asbury meant to Jeff over the past four years. Asbury has really been his life."

A memorial service will be scheduled later this week at Crossroads Church in Florence.

Janet Patton: (859) 231-3264. Twitter: janetpattonhl.

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