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Benjamin Andrew Quillen

The family of a 17-year-old William Blount High School (Maryville, TN) student does not yet know what caused the young man's death.

Benjamin Andrew Quillen's parents discovered their son was not breathing early Sunday morning.

Efforts to resuscitate him at home in his bedroom, in a Rural/Metro Ambulance and in the emergency room at Blount Memorial Hospital were unsuccessful. He was pronounced dead at 6:39 a.m., just over an hour after his mother and father found him in his bed.

Allen Quillen, Ben's father, said Monday that an autopsy was performed but the cause of death has not yet been determined.

"They are leaning toward a diagnosis of athletic heart syndrome," Quillen said. 'But, until results of some of the tests are available, we're not certain."

Quillen said he was told by doctors the sudden death could have been the result of a heart arrhythmia or possibly a virus that invaded the heart.

Blount County Sheriff's Department Detective Lt. Randall Mercks said the autopsy revealed the young man's heart was slightly enlarged. Mercks said there was no sign of foul play. He said the death is still unexplained but definitely from natural causes.

The Quillen family will hold their son's funeral service in the William Blount High School auditorium at 7 p.m. today.

Allen Quillen said Maryville Evangelical Church, the family's church, will hold only 100 to 150 people. "We don't know who will want to attend the funeral, but we wanted to be certain there was room for anyone who might want to be there," Quillen said. In his death, he would want to give others the opportunity to hear the truth about life beyond this world. Ben was a gift from God of unbelievable joy, and now we must give him back to God."

The William Blount High School junior was active in his church, in Young Life and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. He was selected for the Tennessee Governor's School, Who's Who, Youth Leadership Blount and the McGhee Tyson Civil Air Patrol.

The family moved to Blount County in 1993 from Greenville. S.C.

Posted: 3/1/1999

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